Brazilian team wins championship – 30 years later

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) – Talk about playing into extra time: Brazil’s Sport Recife team has been declared the national league’s football champion – 30 years after the tournament.

The north-eastern club beat the mighty Rio de Janeiro club Flamengo for the honour, but in Brazil’s Supreme Court, rather than on the pitch.

In a ruling on Tuesday, justices voted 3-1 to give Sport the accolade, officially ending a decades-long controversy and prompting celebrations at the Recife outfit.

The champion’s title “indisputably belongs to us – again,” Sport tweeted, along with a picture of the cup.

Flamengo, however, was not amused. It published a picture of its 1987 team with the caption: “On the field, with the ball, Flamengo forever. Brazilian champions 1987.”

In this 2016 file photo, the Brazilian Supreme Court meets in Brasilia, Brazil. After 30 years, Brazil’s Supreme Court has finally decided the winner of the 1987 soccer league title. It’s little-known club Sport Recife, which by a 3-1 vote by a five-member panel was declared the winner over Rio de Janeiro’s Flamengo. - AP
In this 2016 file photo, the Brazilian Supreme Court meets in Brasilia, Brazil. After 30 years, Brazil’s Supreme Court has finally decided the winner of the 1987 soccer league title. It’s little-known club Sport Recife, which by a 3-1 vote by a five-member panel was declared the winner over Rio de Janeiro’s Flamengo. – AP

The bizarre row in this football-mad country stems from the complication that year of two competing tournaments.

Flamengo won a tournament created by clubs, while Sport won a parallel contest organised by the Brazilian Football Confederation. When the confederation tried to set up a head-to-head between the two leaders, Flamengo declined to take part.

In 2011, the confederation tried to calm the footballing waters by awarding both teams a joint 1987 title, but Flamengo demanded a final ruling from the Supreme Court – and has now lost.