Brazil’s Supreme Court has decided that northeastern club Sport were the rightful winners of the 1987 Brazilian league on Tuesday, bringing an end to a 30-year battle with rivals Flamengo.
A dispute at the time led to two leagues running concurrently, with Recife side Sport winning one and Rio giants Flamengo the other.
Flamengo rejected the chance to play off for the title and the two clubs have been arguing over who are the rightful champions since.
Tuesday’s ruling is the final say in the matter.
‘Justice has decided once again that 1987 belongs only to the Leao,’ Sport said on their web site, referring to the team’s nickname.
‘Sport are still the 1987 Brazilian champions, just as they were 30 years ago.’
The was confusion over the 1987 title when the CBF, Brazil’s football association, were unable to financially support the championship, leading to 13 clubs, including Flamengo, starting a breakaway league.
While the CBF sanctioned that league, they decided that it should run alongside the remaining Campeonato Brasileiro – even though many saw that as a second-tier tournament – with the winners of each league playing off for the title.
Flamengo and Sport Recife were the respective winners, but the former refused participate in the play-off, leaving Sport to qualify for the Copa Libertadores – the South American equivalent of the Champions League/European Cup – and take the title.
However, while the CBF awarded the title to Sport, at the time the National Sports Council gave it to Flamengo, sparking the three-decade long legal battle.
Flamengo, then captained by Brazil star Zico and boasting likes of Bebeto, who won the World Cup in 1994, in their side, still list the title on their website.