Brazilian justice has formally charged 16 people, including seven soccer professionals who play in the first and second divisions, with fixing matches on behalf of a betting gang on-line. The judges have accepted the prosecution’s complaint after both the Brazilian Football Confederation and the Government requested a thorough investigation that the federal police have already undertaken. Among the defendants, players from Santos, Fluminense and Internacional. The scandal that threatens to shake the foundations of Brazilian soccer had its first act in November last year with midfielder Romário, a 20-year-old player from Vila Nova de Goiás, a second-class team, as the protagonist.
Romário waited nervously on the bench in the game against Sport. Shortly before, he had accepted a bribe of thousands of reais for causing a penalty, according to the complaint from the Prosecutor’s Office. The footballer had received part of the money, but there was a problem: he was not summoned by the coach. Desperate, he hastily tried to convince a colleague on the team, but there was no way. The rumors that began to spread around the locker room those days made the president of the club, Hugo Jorge Bravo, suspect that he happened to be a policeman and began to investigate on his behalf. Three weeks later, Romário left the team for “serious indiscipline.” It was the beginning of a scandal that begins to grow dangerously.
The Prosecutor’s Office maintains in its complaint that the group of bettors normally offered players between 50,000 and 100,000 reais to make very specific plays in the matches, such as a certain number of fouls, yellow cards, corner kicks or even to make an effort in the defeat of his own team. If everything went as planned, bettors made huge profits on betting websites. The investigation has detected at least 23 of these criminal plays in matches; there are 13 suspect encounters, all from last season. Among those involved, players from clubs such as Santos, Fluminense, Internacional Juventude, Cuiabá, Cruzeiro, Athletico Paranaense, Internacional and, but the list could increase.
One of the best-known suspects is Santos defender Eduardo Bauermann, who is accused of receiving at least 50,000 reais for getting him a yellow card in the last match against Avaí in 2022, according to the investigation. The player was dismissed by the club on Tuesday. The same fate also suffered the winger Pedrinho, from Athletico Paranaense, the midfielder Richard, from Cruzeiro, or the striker Vitor Mendes, from Fluminense.
The conversation of another player, Fernando Neto, currently at São Bernardo, with a gambler, serves as an example of the crude system when he tells him that he has done everything possible to be expelled from the game, as they had agreed, according to one of the exchanges. by WhatsApp detected and filtered. “Look at the fouls I did, the only thing left was to attack the referee (…) I tried in every way and that son of a bitch did not send me off,” he lamented. I was telling Bruno Lopes, one of the gamblers who, according to the Prosecutor’s Office, was the ringleader of the gang, in which there are eight other defendants.
In those cases the bettors were not easily satisfied. Some players have reported threats. In the case of Bauermann, two gamblers (who would have lost 800,000 reais because the player did not commit the promised fouls) came to talk about the possibility of killing him. At the home of one of them, the police found two firearms and 23 ammunition without legal authorization.
The Brazilian Football Confederation asked the President of the Government and the Ministry of Justice for the Federal Police to take over and centralize the investigations and ruled out that it will affect the matches. “There is no possibility of suspending the current competition,” he said in a statement, noting that, for now, the investigation refers to games from last season and that the current one is not stained.
The players involved could be suspended for two years, according to the code of the Court of Sports Justice. In the criminal sphere they can be accused of crimes such as criminal gang, money laundering and corruption in the sports field, which provide for sentences of two to eight years in prison, in addition to fines.
The scandal has reopened the debate on sports betting houses, which in Brazil have been legal since 2018 and have grown exponentially without clear regulation because they operate from abroad. According to a newspaper account or globe, in Brazil they move close to 150,000 million reais a year, but hardly pay taxes. The Chamber of Deputies prepares a commission of investigation on sports fixing and the Government, a law so that this flourishing sector begins to pay taxes.
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