24th March 2017

Fake club claim in Asian passport scandal

As club sides across the continent come to terms with the latest revelation in Asian football’s illegal passports scandal, The Sports Integrity Initiative can reveal a fake club may have been used to transfer players into the confederation. At least nine Brazilians who’ve turned out for East Timor’s national side have been using invalid Timorese passports, the country’s Ministry of Justice has confirmed. In a letter to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), details of which were made public this week, the Ministry announced the players’ passports are ‘null and void’.

As a result, the Brazilians can no longer use their passports to qualify as an Asian player under the AFC’s ‘3+1’ rule. Under that law, one spot in a club’s squad is reserved for a representative of another AFC member association (click here for an explanation of that rule).

According to reports from Korea Football News, the midfielder Rodrigo – aka Rodrigo Sousa Silva – was immediately released from his K-League side, Daegu FC, once the news broke. The playing futures of the other Brazilians named this week – which include Paulo Martins (Khonkaen FC, Thailand), Patrick Fabiano (Kazma, Kuwait) and Juninho (Sarawak, Malaysia) – are unknown.

Many of the Brazilians moved to Asia at the time they recieved their Timorese passports. Three of them – Diogo Santos Rangel, Paulo Helber and Ramon Saro – are listed as initially transferring through a club called Dili United.

But contacts in the Timorese capital say the club is non-existent, as the country has been without a league for many years. Those with knowledge of the scandal claim Dili United may have been a shell-club used to shift players from South America to Asia.

Several other Brazilians who have represented East Timor, whose passports are still under investigation, have also come to Asia this way. It is not know what transfer fees – if any – were involved. The AFC has previously taken action against the Football Federation Timor-Leste for its use of fraudulent documents to register players, but has again been reluctant to sanction the players with bans or fines.

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