This Saturday (25) a group of around 4,000 members defines the new president of Corinthians, the man who will lead, for the next three years, a club with more than 30 million fans and annual revenue close to R$1 billion.
The dispute for the coveted seat takes place between two names, André Luiz de Oliveira and Augusto Melo, who, although they are on opposite sides, have, perhaps, more similarities than differences: both do not enjoy much prestige with the majority of fans, as they flirted with prison in the recent past and spent much of this year’s election attacking their opponent.
The exchange of accusations includes suspicions of corruption, money laundering, tax fraud, racism, misogyny and fatphobia. Not all without ballast, although none of them have convictions that would prevent them from running for president of the club.
The current candidate, from the same political group that elected the last five presidents of Corinthians, including the current president, Duilio Monteiro Alves, is businessman André Luiz de Oliveira, nominated by former president Andrés Sanchez, the most influential of the group.
André Negão, as he is known in Parque São Jorge, gained prominence in the press in 2016 when, during a Federal Police operation, he was arrested for illegal possession of a weapon. He was released on bail.
The director was suspected of receiving a bribe of R$500,000 from Odebrecht, in a scheme that involved the construction of the club’s stadium in Itaquera, the Neo Química Arena, the stage for the opening of the 2014 World Cup. The image of him being led by the PF it appeared in the newspapers and is remembered by opponents.
In interviews throughout this year’s campaign, even when he was not asked about the subject, Oliveira repeated countless times that he was investigated for five years by the PF and, as nothing was found, he ended up receiving a certificate of suitability from the police.
“I was never subpoenaed or called to testify. The action to take me by force found two weapons that were stored and had expired weapons license. I explained the case, I was released and regularized the situation of the weapons. After that, the process is over,” he said.
When questioned about the candidate’s past, his advisor sends a set of nine criminal certificates, all negative, to demonstrate that there is nothing against him that is discreditable.
Opposition candidate, also businessman Augusto Melo, who once belonged to the group of Andrés and Duílio, also spent part of the campaign explaining himself about a conviction for tax fraud, of 2 years, 10 months and 20 days, converted into community service provision. .
“I had a remission, that is, the creditor itself, in this case the State, recognized that the debt did not exist and closed the case”, he states.
Melo’s police record contains a series of police reports, most of them as victims. In one of them, recorded in May this year, he claims to have received threats after becoming a presidential candidate. One of the intimidations, according to what he told the police, was done over the phone by an unknown person.
“Be careful with your life, you will have a place in heaven”, says an excerpt from the bulletin.
Earlier this month, the candidate also accused the situation of resorting to illegal subterfuge to try to defeat him. He cites the call made by the São Paulo Chamber, at the request of councilor Milton Leite (União Brasil), deputy on André Negão’s ticket, to testify at the CPI on Violence and Sexual Harassment.
He was called to talk about the content of audio conversations between him and a partner, in which the candidate had referred to a cook from União Barbarense, a football club in the interior of São Paulo, using fatphobic and racist terms. The candidate says the phrase was taken out of context.
“From the first moment, I made a point of not contesting the audio and apologizing for the words I used”, says Melo, who contests the fact of being called to testify in the capital about an event that occurred in the city of Santa Bárbara D’Oeste.
“Councilor Milton Leite was caught in a video from the Chamber itself in which he, without realizing it was being filmed, tells other councilors, without the slightest shame, that the CPI and the entire structure of the Chamber should be used to help him with an issue personal, that is, the election at Corinthians”, he adds.
Leite, in turn, says that he forwarded a complaint received by the Chamber and that there is no persecution of Melo. He also states that the investigation will continue after the Corinthians election.
“I was scared by the content of the complaint as soon as I saw the content. It is not a case just against him, but against any racist. I will work so that Corinthians does not have a racist in the presidency. He should be ashamed of running for president of the Corinthians, the fans don’t identify with racism.”
On the other hand, the situation also accuses people linked to Augusto Melo of calling the police to investigate alleged money laundering and corruption in an alleged scheme that included André Negão himself, the current president of the club and other directors.
The accusations presented would be similar to other content sent to the Prosecutor’s Office and which had been archived due to lack of support, such as names of alleged beneficiaries and embezzled amounts.
“It has already become clear to the Public Prosecutor’s Office that these accusations were invented by people who wanted a political fact. Everything is archived and it has been proven that there is no money laundering”, says André.
Last Monday (20), groups of women associated with Corinthians went to Parque São Jorge to protest, almost simultaneously, against the two candidates. The team’s main fans, Gaviões da Fiel, however, expressed their opposition to André Negão’s candidacy and declared support for the opponent.
The belligerence between the candidates left important issues in the background, such as the management of a club with a debt estimated at just over R$900 million, a situation that makes it difficult to form a competitive team for men’s football.
Since the 2019 São Paulo title, which crowned the third state championship under the command of Fabio Carille, no trophy has been added to the black and white gallery. The current drought is the fifth longest in black and white history.
This year, in addition to the lack of titles, the club has not yet mathematically freed itself from the risk of relegation in the Brazilian Championship.
The new president will also be responsible for honoring the payment of the financing for the construction of the Neo Química Arena. The club estimates that the debt with Caixa Econômica Federal is R$700 million.
Less than two weeks before the elections, the current board announced that it is in negotiations with Caixa to establish a new payment agreement. The proposal presented to the state bank would include the assignment of the naming rights contract, in addition to a debt title, similar to a court order.
Duilio’s management argues that, in this way, Corinthians will reduce its debt so that the club will be able to pay off the stadium in five years.
The opposition believes that the agreement would actually be an electoral move to favor the current candidate. The argument is that naming rights already make up the revenue with which the club pays for financing, while criticizing the lack of transparency in title negotiations.