It was announced to the world on September 29, 2015 and quickly shook the backstage of Portuguese (first) and world football (shortly later), denouncing promiscuous club contracts, previously hidden commissions, prohibited passes sharing, tax evasion schemes. and even an accusation of rape against the captain of the national team, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Created by Portuguese hacker Rui Pinto – arrested last Wednesday in Budapest, Hungary -, the website Football Leaks has exposed a large part of the vices hitherto deprived of football and its idols. The project presented itself as a platform to expose “the hidden part of football”. “Funds, commissions, deals, everything serves to enrich certain parasites who take advantage of football, sucking clubs and players”, read the introductory message.
Rui Pinto is now also accused of being at the origin of the dissemination of Benfica’s emails (through other platforms) which resulted in several lawsuits involving the club da Luz, but, at the beginning of Football Leaks, Sporting, FC Porto and the Doyen fund, owned by Portuguese businessman Nélio Lucas, seemed the prime targets.
Football Leaks began by publishing a large number of contracts linked, above all, to the Alvalade club. Like the contract of coach Jorge Jesus, who the previous summer had left Benfica for Sporting, or the failed contracts for the acquisition of the players Mitroglou and Cervi, who would end up in the rival of Luz, and the confidential documents of the tug of war between lions and the Doyen fund in the case of Rojo, an Argentine defender who had moved to Manchester United.
The perception that Sporting, above all, and FC Porto were the main targets of the hacker(s) even led the leonine president at the time, Bruno de Carvalho, to suggest that Benfica would be in the origin of Football Leaks – and in particular Pedro Guerra, television commentator affectionate to the reds, who 15 days before had shown on TVI24 a draft of the contract offered by the lions to Mitroglou, later published on the website.
A fact, by the way, recalled last Thursday by the communication director of FC Porto, Francisco J. Marques, in reaction to the arrest of Rui Pinto.
Extortion to Doyen?
About Clube da Luz (later also exposed), the site’s first revelations only included details about the transfer of Dutchman Ola John, also involving Doyen.
The investment fund and its CEO, Nélio Lucas, saw several documents published about the involvement in business of shared passes (such as those concerning the then Porto players Mangala, Defour or Imbula), which gave rise to an alleged attempt to extort Rui Pinto to Doyen, in a meeting between Nélio Lucas and the lawyer Aníbal Pinto, representing the hacker from Vila Nova de Gaia, at a service station on the A5, near Lisbon. It was the investigation into Doyen’s complaint to the PJ that now led to Rui Pinto’s arrest in Budapest.
Taxes of the “Mendes universe”
The information held by the site was then passed on to a European research consortium that brought together publications from several countries. In December of that same year, the information began to see the light of day and the shock waves spread rapidly.
One of the most consequential revelations turned out to be the one that involved several figures from the universe of businessman Jorge Mendes in elaborate schemes of alleged tax evasion, using companies located off-shores.
Cristiano Ronaldo turned out to be one of the most affected, when he saw the Spanish tax authorities accuse him of withholding 14.7 million euros in tax returns between 2011 and 2014. A case that was only resolved last summer, when the player agreed to pay 18.8 million euros and get a suspended sentence of two years in prison, before leaving Real Madrid for Juventus.
But CR7 was not the only Portuguese represented by Mendes to face the Spanish tax authorities after the revelations provided by Football Leaks. José Mourinho (two million euros and a suspended sentence of one year, last summer), Fábio Coentrão, Ricardo Carvalho and Pepe also had to compensate the “Hacienda”.
The Mayorga scandal
If the tax case had already worn out Cristiano Ronaldo, last September the Portuguese international saw his name shaken by another scandal of greater repercussions, uncovered by the German newspaper Der Spiegel, again based on documents obtained by Football Leaks: a rape complaint presented by the American Kathryn Mayorga against the player, with whom he met at a party in Las Vegas, in the summer of 2009.
The revelation, assumed by the American herself in an interview with the newspaper, led Las Vegas police to reopen the case and left Cristiano Ronaldo – who has already publicly denied the rape – with this important battle ahead.
It remains to be confirmed whether Rui Pinto, whose lawyers have already admitted to being the face of Football Leaks, is also the pirate who stole the emails from Benfica (and, recently, from the PLMJ law firm).