Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
The United Arab Emirates’ Arabian Gulf League is named in two investigations into passport fraud, The Sports Integrity Initiative has learned. The separate but overlapping investigations revolve around the use of false, stolen and/or improperly obtained passports.
One investigation relates to widespread abuse of Asian football’s ‘3+1’ rule, under which one of four ‘foreign player’ spots in a team’s roster is reserved for a player from another Asian nation. It is believed a number of players from Brazil and Chile have been unduly given Asian passports as a way of cheating this rule.
The UAE Football Association was last year asked to investigate one club’s claim that a rival player – who had only just transferred from Brazil – was playing having used the passport of a elderly Uzbekistani woman. The complaint was withdrawn shortly after being lodged. At the time, at least five South Americans were playing in the league using Asian passports, taking up around a third of the league’s Asian player spots.
The SII is aware of a number of other South Americans playing across the continent on Middle Eastern passports, including several from Syria and Palestine. It is believed only a small number of them are legitimate.
The other investigation – which is also being carried out by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) – involves East Timor’s use of Brazilian players. This is a separate investigation to the one launched by FIFA last year, after the Timorese fielded seven Brazilian-born players in a World Cup qualifier against Palestine.
The launch of FIFA’s investigation – which, almost a year later, is still yet to be concluded – saw the Timorese stop using their tranche of Brazilian players for the rest of their World Cup qualification campaign. The practice resumed in June, when East Timor and Malaysia met in two Asian Cup qualifiers, prompting the AFC to look into the matter.
Around two dozen Brazilian footballers – all of them male – are believed to have received Timorese passports since former FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter visited the country in early 2011. Many of the recently naturalised players have never been selected for Timor’s national team, but do play in Asian leagues, including the UAE’s. A number of Brazilian-Timorese players advertise ‘Asian passport’ on their Twitter and YouTube accounts.
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