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Football Leaks trial kicks off in Portugal

By: Reuters Editorial | 4 September 2020


The trial of Rui Pinto got underway in Portugal on Friday. His Football Leaks website published a huge trove of documents exposing the multi-million dealings of European soccer clubs. Francis Maguire reports.

Security was tight at a Lisbon court Friday (September 4) where the trial of a man whose revelations shook the soccer world began.

The 31-year-old former history student Rui Pinto faces 90 charges, including unauthorized access to data and attempted extortion.

His website – known as Football Leaks – published 70 million documents that exposed the expensive dealings of European soccer clubs.

Pinto’s website showed how some of soccer’s richest and most famous figures avoided tax.

And it gave insight into wealthy Gulf individuals and organizations who became influential in the sport.

The site also examined the huge sums flowing through leading clubs, and the uneven way authorities have applied rules.

One of the most high-profile fallouts came for English soccer club Manchester City – which is Abu Dhabi-controlled.

The documents provided some of the evidence that led to a ban on the club competing in the prestigious European Champions League for breaking finance rules.

That ban, however, was overturned earlier this year.

Pinto has admitted releasing the documents, but argued he was a whistleblower acting in the public interest.

He was arrested in Hungary early last year and is now in witness protection.

The trial is expected to last until December, and 45 witnesses are due to provide testimony.

One of the defense witnesses is due to be U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden.

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