How Football Leaks Exposed the Dirty Dealings of Modern Football

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The infamous “football leaks” data leak showed the world the dirty dealings of those in charge of the beautiful game.

In this article, we will learn what “football leaks” was and how it impacted the footballing world.

What is Football Leaks?

Football Leaks refers to football’s biggest scandal which kickstarted when 1.9 Terabytes of information and 18.6 million documents were leaked.

The documents included over seven months of work from 60 journalists in 14 countries to uncover corrupt practices in football. 

The findings exposed how footballers, managers, and officials are using the influence gained from the sports to break ethics and bypass tax regulations to enrich themselves.

Below, you will learn about some of the most scandalous practices that football leaks revealed.

Obscure Clauses in Player Contracts And Weird Transfer Window Terms

football leaks scandal

Football leaks brought interesting details on player contracts and transfers to light. As ridiculous as some of what you are about to read might seem, they existed in the deals of various players for fascinating reasons.

For instance, Italian striker Mario Balotelli was to receive 1 million euros for not spitting into the face of an opponent. Mario’s transfer to Liverpool in August 2014 saw him earning 85,000 GBP per week alongside a bonus for goals scored.

Another bonus he could earn at the end of the season was a bonus of 1 million euros for good behavior, which included not being sent off the field of play for more than three times.

As ridiculous as this sounds, it is not as intriguing as Liverpool’s contract with player Roberto Firmino. The Brazilian offensive midfielder’s contract included an exit clause that required at least 98 million euros and that he could not move to Arsenal.

According to Football Leaks’ findings, the clause stated, “IF the interested club pays at least 98 000 000 Euro” and “IF the interested club is NOT Arsenal FC.”

On transfer, the documents also point to a possible commission cut for former Swansea City coach’s agent. Bayram Tutumlu had made millions getting paid whenever Swansea bought players.

Swansea had already suspected that Tutumlu was involved in such dealings, which almost led to the firing of then-coach, Michael Laudrup.

Based on excerpts of the document published by a Danish newspaper Politiken, Tutumlu added over 3 million pounds to his pocket from these backdoor deals.

Football and Tax

A huge part of the documents touches on tax evasion and corrupt practices by footballers and managers in Europe.  

The most famous names on the list are coach Jose Mourinho, Cristiano Ronaldo, Mesut Özil, Jorge Mendes, and a football agent.

Mesut Özil found himself in a Spanish tax authority probe, according to Football Leaks. The story summarises that the Spanish tax authority found out that Özil had not submitted his earning to them.

The assessment produced by the tax authority reads: “The taxpayer was aware of his tax liability, or at least he should have known,” and also, “It is a fundamental requirement that every taxpayer is aware of, even those with only elementary financial knowledge.” The document also mentions “serious violation” and a “cover-up.”

The story led to a ruling requiring Mesut Özil to pay 2,017,152.18 euros in back taxes, with a late payment interest.

Also, Cristiano Ronaldo got caught up in tax issues as the leak exposed potential money hidden in offshore accounts. 

According to Football Leaks, an alleged sum of 63.5 million euros did not appear in tax declaration. The leak goes ahead to make claims that Ronaldo’s tax team set up a shell company in the British Virgin Islands that keeps Ronaldo’s millions. This is illegal, according to Spanish tax authorities, because they don’t appear in his earnings. The documents also mention other ways through which Ronaldo may have used to evade taxes. 

Finally, football coach Jose Mourinho is also listed in the document as one of the football legends linked to issues with tax authorities.

Calls were made to investigate Mourinho after claims that millions of pounds moved offshore to avoid tax. Superstar agent Jorge Mendes was mentioned in the documents related to some of these issues.

The Football Leaks had far-reaching consequences, including an investigation into big football clubs like Manchester City and Paris St-Germain.

FIFA’s Response

Initially, FIFA was very defensive of the sports as it perceived the leaks as a way to undermine the new FIFA leadership that had taken over after a major overhaul.

Parts of the documents published by Der Spiegel accused FIFA president Gianni Infantino of helping both PSG and Manchester United to break the Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules.

Later, FIFA president spoke to some select media houses on the issue. 

In an interview with the European Investigative Collaborations (EIC Network), Infantino mentioned that the biggest problem is the lack of transparency.

“The problem is there’s no full transparency,” he claimed.

He went ahead to express concern about the credibility of the game and mentioned that no rules were changing. Instead, FIFA will figure out a way to make sure things work smoothly in countries with different regulations.

The Suspected Football Leaks Hacker Gets Arrested 

Rui Pinto is the alleged Football Leaks exposer. He was arrested and charged with 147 offenses in Portugal.

All charges are related to illegal access to data, aggravated extortion, violation of correspondence, and computer sabotage.

Prosecutors in Portugal mentioned in a statement that Mr. Pinto “used various computer programs and digital tools to enter, in an unauthorized and anonymous manner, the computer systems or email boxes and remove content from it.”

His defense calls his actions a moral necessity and labels Pinto as “very important European whistleblower.”

Football leaks showed the world that the beautiful game is being hijacked by those in charge to enrich themselves. Of course, most fans who go to the stadium every weekend were already aware of that.

Striker @ Hooligan F.C.

Elisha is an Accra-based freelancer writer who has a passion for technology, finance, and football. He supports Chelsea FC.

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