July 22, 2020 / 6:34 PM / 21 days ago

Corinthians arena vandalised hours before city derby

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Corinthians accused “Palmeiras vandals” of breaking into their stadium and painting slogans on a goalpost and the pitch on Wednesday, hours before they were due to face their arch-rivals on the first day of the restarted Sao Paulo state championship.

The provocation did little to rattle Corinthians, who won the match 1-0.

And with just moments remaining in the match, a drone flew over the stadium with a banner reading: “Forever 8/4 What a Moment HaHaHa” in reference to April 8, 2018, when Corinthians beat Palmeiras to win the Paulista state championship.

The referee paused the game while the drone flew off. There were no fans inside the stadium due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Earlier in the day, Corinthians officials opened their stadium to find one post daubed with a slogan and the six-yard box painted with the scoreline “8x0”, Palmeiras’s record victory over their rivals.

The slogan was written in green paint, the colours of Palmeiras.

Corinthians said they had filed a police report and offered CCTV footage to help identify the culprits.

“Corinthians lament the actions of Palmeiras vandals who invaded the Corinthians Arena on Wednesday morning with the sole objective of damaging the installations,” they said in a statement.

Palmeiras did not comment.

The match was one of eight taking place on Wednesday and Thursday in the restarted state championship. Several other tournaments also restarted on Wednesday as Brazilian football continues to resume play after a four-month hiatus caused by the pandemic.

Reporting by Andrew Downie, editing by Ed Osmond/Peter Rutherford

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