- Associated Press - Monday, September 22, 2014

SAO PAULO (AP) - One of Brazil’s most successful clubs is facing harsh criticism from supporters after enduring one of its worst losses ever, prompting some fans to throw rocks and bottles at the bus carrying its players.

Police intervened and no one was injured in the protest, which came just hours after Palmeiras was trounced 6-0 by Goias on Sunday, a result that dropped the traditional club to last place in the 20-team standings.

Local media said the objects were thrown by a few fans who waited for the team’s return to its hotel in the city of Goiania following the defeat, one of the worst in the history of the club celebrating its centennial this year.

There were other cases of fan violence in Brazil this weekend, including a confrontation between different Corinthians fan groups at its stadium. The supporters clashed on the stands and police had to intervene with batons to disperse the crowd. In Belo Horizonte, Cruzeiro fans threw rocks at the bus carrying players of rival Atletico Mineiro before a match at the Mineirao Stadium. There were no reports of injuries in the two incidents.

Authorities said four Atletico Mineiro fans heading to the stadium sustained minor injuries after being shot at while at a bus stop in Belo Horizonte, but it wasn’t clear if the violence was directly related to rival fan groups.

When Palmeiras arrived back in Sao Paulo on Monday, team officials avoided using the airport’s arrivals terminal in fear of further protests. Players entered the bus directly on the tarmac before heading back to the team’s headquarters.

Most of the fans’ criticism is against team president Paulo Nobre, who is accused of making too many poor signings since taking over the club. Nobre earlier this year took a chance on hiring Argentine coach Ricardo Gareca, who lasted only three months on the job after winning only four of 27 points while in command.

The Brazilian team with the most national titles, Palmeiras was losing 4-0 by the 37th minute on Sunday. Goias, 10th in the Brazilian league standings, had the competition’s second-worst attack coming into the weekend.

“What happened was very unusual,” recently hired Palmeiras coach Dorival Jr. said. “Now we have to move on and find a solution. Things can’t stay like this. We need a change in attitude so we can start giving some hope to our fans.”

It was Palmeiras’ worst Brazilian league loss since a 6-0 defeat to Internacional in 1981. Palmeiras lost 6-2 to minnow Mirassol in the Sao Paulo state championship last year, and 6-0 again to Coritiba in the Brazilian Cup in 2011. One of its worst losses was a 7-2 home defeat to Vitoria in the Brazilian Cup in 2003.

The team has 22 points from 23 matches in the 20-team Brazilian league standings, although it is only one point away from the first team outside relegation zone. The bottom four clubs are demoted.

Palmeiras is trying to avoid its second consecutive relegation, and third in its 100-year history. Palmeiras played in the second division in 2003 and in 2013.


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