Last Wednesday evening Moacir Bianchi, the ex-President of Palmeiras’ biggest torcida organizada, took to social media with a message that read “If you fight, defeat is a possibility. If you don’t, defeat is a certainty.” A few hours later, early on Thursday, he was found murdered. Twenty-two bullets had ripped through his body as he sat in his car in the middle-class neighbourhood of Ipiranga in the South of São Paulo.
Bianchi was still a high-ranking member of the torcida, known as Mancha Verde, which has made a name for itself as one of the biggest and most notorious organised fan groups in Brazil. He was a man proud of the fact that he had helped create, through brutal acts of violence, a reputation for his organisation as one of the most fearsome in Brazil.
The police are investigating whether an internal dispute in Mancha Verde was the cause of the murder. The authorities have already identified a first suspect. He is known to frequent Palmeiras’ Allianz Parque stadium though is not officially a member of the torcida.
As a result of Bianchi’s murder the Mancha Verde directors announced that they would put an indefinite end to their activities. Their headquarters, previously coated in Palmeiras green, were covered with beige paint and the organisation’s mascot was removed from the front of the building.
However, another faction within the group has since released a statement saying; “The real Palmeiras and Mancha collective states through this communication that it does not accept or comply with any note/order of the current “directorate” of the torcida Mancha Alvi Verde, which does not hold any legitimacy for this purpose.”
The rebel group promised to construct a new Mancha Verde “with real leaders and associates, who were always committed to the ideas of the group.”
The current President of the organisation, Anderson ‘Nando’ Nigro, was called in for questioning by the police on Tuesday. He told press waiting outside the police station that he did not know the identity of the killers.
Hours prior to the killing, on Wednesday evening, there had been a meeting at the headquarters of the organisation where factions from the South, North and West zones of São Paulo confronted each other over the ongoing power dispute. Nigro’s lawyer described what happened as “a generic mess, let’s say, Nando [Nigro] didn’t get near Moacir [Bianchi], he didn’t manage to. This generic misunderstanding began. There were three discontented groups and it turned into a general mess.”
There have been some reports that the “generic misunderstanding” took place because of the presence at the meeting of members of the hugely powerful organised crime syndicate Primeiro Comando da Capital, or PCC, which controls huge swathes of Brazil’s drug trafficking industry.
According to the site R7; “members of PCC, who didn’t belong to the torcida, were at the location and this incited revolt from some leaders, among them Moacir, who tried to remove the members of the criminal faction from the Palmeiras torcida’s headquarters, saying that the meeting was to discuss the organizada not topics related to organised crime.”
It is extremely difficult to know exactly what is happening as torcidas organizadas are run in a clandestine fashion; however PCC’s influence over the torcidas of Palmeiras and their main rival Corinthians has long been a source of speculation. The involvement of Mancha Verde in drug trafficking is something that Bianchi had previously denounced, which could have made him a target.
This is certainly not the first case of violence within a torcida in Brazil. They are often extremely large, with memberships that run into the tens of thousands, and disputes over money and power are common. Police fear that this split, and the desire to deal with it internally, will lead to more violence at upcoming Palmeiras games.
The first two and a half months of this year in Brazil have seen a spate of violence related to football. This brutal killing follows the murder of a Botafogo fan stabbed repeatedly with a barbecue skewer before their derby with Flamengo and the senseless death of a young Coritiba fan at the hands of the police, shot dead when an officer accidentally discharged his weapon.
This bloodshed in football is a reflection of a deeply violent society and a widespread outbreak of brutality in the country since the turn of the year. PCC was also heavily involved in prison riots in the North of Brazil in January which resulted in the deaths of at least 140 people. The riots were part of a power struggle between PCC and rival gangs trying to take control of drug trafficking routes to Brazil from neighbouring countries.