Demonstration makes its way to Lisbon

Olhanense take their fight to Lisbon

In an emotive plea for justice, SC Olhanense issued a press statement on June 16 relating current events to the uprising of the local population against the French occupation of Portugal 212 years ago.

The statement said: “Before, as now, the people of Olhão showed to be fearless and to have values and courage to face a French army, while in Europe cities and countries were being conquered by the powers of Napoleon. On June 16, 1808, all united in one voice and one will, the people of Olhão were ready to face danger and to die for freedom and for the Portuguese royal family in the name of the country. More than 200 years later, the Portuguese Football Federation’s (FPF) decision trampled the honour of the same city, destroying a sports project for a club with 108 years of history.”

On Tuesday, a party of officials and fans travelled on the club coach to the FPF headquarters in Lisbon to demonstrate their pride and worth, not against an invader but in defence of the values of justice and equality.

SC Olhanense, along with five other teams, have been denied the chance of promotion from the Campeonato de Portugal to the Segunda Liga by a bureaucratic hierarchy that was unwilling to organise six play-off games. To add insult to injury, the FPF will more than likely be organising 10 games in the capital, enabling UEFA to complete the Champions League competition.

Once again, money speaks as justice is denied. Luís Torres, president of SC Olhanense SAD, wrote to UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin and received a reply within 48 hours, whereas 25 emails to Fernando Gomes, president of FPF, have failed to get even one response in over six weeks.

Luís Torres added: “We will again ask to speak with Fernando Gomes. We have also written to the Secretary of State for Sport João Paulo Rebelo and the President of the Republic appealing to the common sense of all parties. These are absurd situations that could have major repercussions for the FPF in the near future, they are illegal decisions, and just look at what is happening in the courts in France where the demotion of Amiens and Toulouse has been cancelled.”

Lelo on the Norwich radar

Leonardo Lelo (right) with Olhanense captain Leleco

Olhanense U20 international wing-back Leonardo Lelo has been attracting attention from a number of Primeira Liga clubs, including V.Setúbal, but now Norwich City, currently bottom of the English Premier League, are reported to be interested in the Olhão-born 19-year-old. Top scorer Sapara is in talks with Leixões whilst Vasco is being tracked by several topflight clubs.

Matthew Silva, a former assistant coach at Olhanense, could be their new manager. His playing career was ended prematurely due to a serious injury in 2015/16 and the following season he joined the Olhão club as assistant to Bruno Saraiva. Subsequently Silva coached Internacional de Almancil (2nd District Division of AF Algarve), Almancilense (1st District Division of AF Algarve) and, more recently, Os Armacenenses (Campeonato de Portugal). Matthew’s brother, Joshua Silva, played for Olhanense this season.