News 2nd September 2016

AFC provisionally suspends Wanderley Santos over fake passport

The first head has rolled in Asian football’s fake passport scandal, with the provisional suspension of a Brazilian striker allegedly playing on Indonesian papers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Wanderley Santos Monteiro Júnior is a 27-year-old from Sao Paulo who authorities in Jakarta reportedly claim has been using a fake Indonesian passport.

Officials this week said an Indonesian passport had never been issued in Santos’s name, and that he had never set foot in Indonesia. With investigations underway, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has suspended Wanderley for 60 days. The ban applies worldwide and comes just hours before Santos was set to line up in his side Al Nasr’s home clash against Al-Ahli.

Under AFC rules, clubs can generally only have four foreign players on their books, with one of those spots reserved for a player from an AFC nation. Known as the 3+1 rule, it is designed to foster Asian talent. It has, however, been subject to widespread abuse.

Around three dozen Brazilians are thought to posses false, stolen or improperly acquired passports from Asian countries such as East Timor, Syria, Palestine and Uzbekistan. The AFC is currently investigating. Santos is believed to have acquired his Indonesian passport shortly after joining Al-Nasr in the UAE Arabian Gulf League in July.

Reports in the Gulf News from July 10 and July 30 make no mention of his Indonesian connection. On August 11 at 03:13GMT, his nationality was changed on Wikipedia from Brazilian to Indonesian.

The Dubai-based club is chaired by the UAE’s deputy leader, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum. He is also the country’s Minister of Finance and Industry. Santos left Brazil for the Qatar Stars League in mid-2011. He moved to Sharjah FC in the UAE three years later, before shifting to rivals Al-Nasr in the latest trade window. Al Nasr and the UAE football association have yet to release statements.

AFC Competitions Committee member, Aref Hamad Al Awani, took to Twitter to say the player, not club, would be at fault if anything improper had happened. Passports and validity are ‘the responsibility of the official authorities and it is impossible for any club to make sure every record that the document submitted [is] authentic or fake’, The Emirati wrote.

He added that it is impossible for even the AFC to confirm such details and ‘each player is responsible for his passport and the support of a special identity papers. The club is also affected by this … [and is, if the allegation proves true] right in my opinion to demand compensation for any damage.’

He said match results would only change if it is proven that the club has falsified documents. ‘The passport is not issued by the club and not his responsibility’.

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