Corinthians draft in Cuca just one game into new season but fans protest

April 21 – Sao Paulo giants Corinthians have a new coach. Cuca (pictured) will take over from Fernando Lazaro, but his appointment has evoked a storm of protest over his tainted past. 

In 1987, Cuca, as a player, and three Grêmio teammates were accused of having a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old girl in Bern, Switzerland. They were detained for a month. Two years later, he was sentenced to 15 months in prison for indecent assault using violence, but they never served their sentence as Brazil doesn’t extradite its citizens. Cuca has always claimed to be innocent, saying in 2021 that “I have never touched a woman improperly or inappropriately.”

He said: “There was no rape as they say, as things say. There was a conviction for having a minor enter the room. Simply this. There was no sexual abuse, attempted abuse or anything like that. (…) This 1987 episode needs to be explained. I had only been at Grêmio for two or three weeks, I didn’t know anyone. I’m a guy with a clear head and a clear conscience.”

Last year, before Vitor Pereira arrived at Corinthians, Cuca had been considered the main candidate but the club feared a backlash from their fans. Historically, Corinthians has been a club that champions social causes. His appointment had led to a social media storm and condemnation in various Corinthians quarters.

Cuca had been without a job since 2022 when he exited Atletico Mineiro, the club he won the Copa Libertadores with in 2013 and the league title in 2021. He also won the national title with Palmeiras in 2016.

At Corinthians, he will have his work cut out. Earlier this week, the club lost 1-0 at home in the Copa Libertadores against Argentinos Juniors. Corinthians are one of Brazil’s largest clubs but they have struggled to make a mark in recent seasons.

Corinthians were the third club to dismiss their coach after just one match day into the Serie A season. Antonio Oliveira and Rogerio Ceni departed Goias and Sao Paulo respectively.

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