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.”
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.