Football’s coming home for Palmeiras
Concerns about safety and crowd trouble were brushed aside after the Paulista Football Federation (FPF) caved in to Palmeiras’ request to play the second leg of their semi-final vs São Paulo in the estádio Palestra Itália on 20th April.
The stadium has recently been improved but the capacity is only around 32,000 and the São Paulo fans may be limited to a paltry 2500 tickets.
The streets around the arena are notoriously difficult to police and have been the scene of a number of running battles over the years.
Up until Tuesday, the second leg was to have been played in the estádio Morumbi, which has a capacity of approximately 80,000 (though this is normally restricted to about 68,000). The stadium is the home of São Paulo so, they were more than happy to play the return leg there.
Another problem could be the state of the pitch. Rock dinosaurs Rod Stewart and Ozzy Osbourne were plodding around the stadium earlier this month. 39,000 (can you believe that?!) turned up for the latter and the playing area has yet to recover.Under normal circumstances, Palmeiras would have played a game like this in the estádio Pacaembu. But the municipal stadium is currently having a much needed make over.
Palmeiras have plans to upgrade the Palestra Itália in time for the World Cup in Brazil in 2014. But work is not expected to start until the end of 2009 at the earliest.