Court affirms Recife title after 30 years

RIO DE JANEIRO • Most football matches are decided within 90 minutes, give or take a few minutes of stoppage time. In the case of the 1987 Brazilian league championship, it has taken 30 years and a ruling for the winner to be named.

Three decades after the match, a five-member panel of the country's supreme court ruled on Tuesday that Sport Recife beat Rio de Janeiro giants Flamengo 3-1 to win the league.

One member of the panel abstained because his son had worked as a Flamengo attorney in the case.

The long-running dispute began when Flamengo won the title in a league created by the clubs involved. However, Brazil's football confederation decided to organise a separate competition, which was won by Sport Recife. The confederation then tried to get Flamengo to play Sport Recife in a final, an offer that the former rejected.

Had the panel failed to decide, the case would have gone to the full 11-member supreme court, which is clogged with dozens of investigations into public officials.

Justice Marco Aurelio Mello, a Flamengo fan who ruled against his club, said there will be no more appeals. "This will be the final score," he said during the session.

Justice Luis Roberto Barroso, also a Flamengo fan, said "there is no place worse than the judicial system to discuss sports".

He voted to split the title between the two clubs and said after the decision: "Forty million fans have had their hearts shattered."

Justice Mello added: "And that includes me."

Moments after the decision, Sport Recife announced: "The 1987 title is, undoubtedly, ours. In court, once more, Sport beat those who ran away."

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 20, 2017, with the headline 'Court affirms Recife title after 30 years'. Print Edition | Subscribe