Wednesday

18th May 2022

MEP blasts Portugal over football whistleblower

  • Football Leaks has exposed massive tax evasion (Photo: bildungsr0man)

Rui Pedro Goncalves Pinto, a 30-year old whistleblower who exposed widespread corruption in top European football clubs, has been sitting in pre-trail detention in Portugal for almost three months.

On Friday (14 June), Ana Gomes, a Portuguese socialist MEP, told this website that his incarceration is a miscarriage of justice, in a country that is football crazy.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • 'Pinto is a true whistleblower, he needs protection not prosecution, said Ana Gomes MEP (Photo: europarl.eruopa.eu)

"In Portugal, football is the opium of the people. Football corrupts everything and everybody," she said, citing a pair of high level judges who themselves are on trial for corruption.

But the case of Pinto, whose Football Leaks helped prosecute some of the biggest stars like Cristiano Ronaldo in Spain, has riled Gomes.

The leaks spans some 1.9 terabytes of information and a total of 18.6m documents.

Over 60 journalists from a dozen countries are pouring through the information, leading to a host of tax-evasion convictions for top football stars.

It found, for instance, that Ronaldo had diverted €63.5m into a tax haven of the British Virgin Islands at the end of 2014. The move hid away some €35m from the public coffers.

Pinto, who is Portuguese, faces 10 years in jail.

"He is a true whistleblower, he needs protection not prosecution," said Gomes.

The MEP had helped draft the EU's fourth anti-money laundering directive, now in force, which is supposed to compel EU states to protect anyone that reports money laundering crimes.

Gomes pointed out that authorities from Belgium, France and the Netherlands had also all sought out Pinto for his help in cracking down on other suspects.

In Portugal, the opposite occurred, she said.

"The criminals in the [football] industry want to punish him, to silence him, to destroy him, this is to break him psychologically," she said.

Pinto was detained in Hungary, where he had been living, on charges of cyber crime and extortion and then extradited to Portugal.

Although leaving her post as an MEP, Gomes says she intends to formally seek out the European Parliament to pile on the pressure on Portuguese authorities for his release.

EU on path towards whistleblower protection

EU lawmakers and member states have struck a political deal on the first-ever EU-wide directive on whistleblower protection - following years of big tax-evasion revelations and the laundering of dirty money in European banks.

Opinion

Football's 'Super League' - an own-goal for EU soft power

The global dominance of European football is a cultural asset contributing to Europe's 'soft power' by cultivating an international fanbase for top clubs. But European values of free speech get lost in pursuit of pleasing autocratic regimes gatekeeping their markets.

Opinion

Why Europe should stop worrying about 'sportswashing'

The UAE's international reputation is steadily being shredded by its own leadership, in moves so blatant that no amount of sporting spin can hide them. Like the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Russia, China will also discover that sportswashing never works.

Opinion

The human cost of whistleblowing

The fate of Jonathan Taylor, a British whistleblower stuck in legal limbo in Croatia, is a test of European laws designed to protect those who put themselves at risk for the common good.

Hungary turned into 'hybrid regime', MEPs say

The new draft European Parliament report is an update to the 2018 report which triggered the Article 7 procedure against Hungary, a sanctions probe aiming to rein in member states that break EU rules and values.

News in Brief

  1. Germany shuts ex-chancellor Schröder's office over Putin ties
  2. Russia soldier pleads guilty to Ukraine war crime
  3. EU to protect Finland and Sweden until they join Nato
  4. Poland backs Hungary over frozen 'rule of law' EU funds
  5. EU to reduce size and scope of Mali military mission
  6. Band members testify about Bataclan attack
  7. German prosecutors want five years for alleged ex-Nazi guard
  8. UN urges Iran to halt execution of Swedish-Iranian academic

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine - the case for granting EU candidacy
  2. Watchdog calls for tougher curbs on 'problematic' revolving doors
  3. Borrell: EU arms flow to Ukraine amid 'record' Russian losses
  4. UK and EU edge closer to trade war over Northern Ireland
  5. Rescue crew face 20 years jail for saving migrants
  6. Roma refugees from Ukraine face Czech xenophobia
  7. EU not doing enough to help Ukraine, Yellen says
  8. MEPs raise ambition on EU carbon market reform

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us