Brazils top court names football league champions 30 years on

Supreme court panel rules that Sport Recife beat Flamengo to 1987 title after decades-long dispute over parallel competitions

Most football matches are decided within 90 minutes, give or take a few minutes of injury time. But in the case of a 1987 Brazilian league championship, it has taken 30 years and a supreme court ruling for the winner to be named.

Three decades after the match, a five-member panel of the countrys supreme court ruled on Tuesday that Sport Recife beat Rio de Janeiro giants Flamengo 3-1 to win the league.

One member of the panel abstained because his son had worked as a Flamengo attorney in the case.

The long-running dispute began when Flamengo won the title in a league created by the clubs involved. However, Brazils football confederation decided to organise a separate competition, which was won by Sport Recife. The confederation then tried to get Flamengo to play Sport Recife in a final, an offer that the former rejected.

Had the panel failed to decide, the case would have gone to the full 11-member supreme court.

Football is passion, but the ideal is that sporting decisions do not come to court, Justice Rosa Maria Weber said.

Brazils supreme court is currently clogged with dozens of investigations into public officials as part of a sprawling corruption scandal involving the state-run oil company Petrobras and the major conglomerate Odebrecht, among others.

Justice Marco Aurelio Mello, a Flamengo fan who ruled against his club, said there will be no more appeals in the affair. This will be the final score, Mello said during the session.

Justice Luis Roberto Barroso, also a Flamengo fan, said there is no place worse than the judicial system to discuss sports. He voted to split the title between the two clubs.

After the decision, Barroso said: Forty million fans have had their hearts shattered.

And that includes me, Justice Mello added.

Flamengo, the most popular team in Brazil, has always claimed the title and is unlikely to be swayed by the high-court ruling. But seconds after the decision, Sport Recife proudly announced the title on its website.

[The title of] 87 is, undoubtedly, ours, the club said. In court, once more, Sport beat those who ran away.

Sport Club do Recife (@sportrecife)

87 , indiscutivelmente, nosso. Outra vezhttps://t.co/oBux2CwXAt pic.twitter.com/XG15i7o3Zn

April 18, 2017

Flamengo answered Sports comment with a tweet: On the pitch, on the ball, always Flamengo. Brazilian champion of 1987.

Brazils football confederation did not comment on the ruling.

Originally published at: http://www.theguardian.com/us