Brazil's soccer match-fixing scandal has international reach, investigator says
SAO PAULO (AP) — The lead investigator of Brazil’s sprawling match-fixing scandal said he has uncovered potential evidence of wrongdoing by players in other countries, and he hopes foreign authorities will use his team’s findings to start probes of their own.
Goias state District Attorney Fernando Cesconetto said in interviews with The Associated Press between Saturday and Monday that the case of Colorado Rapids midfielder Max Alves, who was reportedly named in the probe, could be prosecuted in the United States.
“There are some conversations regarding contacts of bettors from here with athletes abroad. And in its due moment that will be shared (with foreign authorities),” Cesconetto told. “(Alves’) own club preemptively suspended the athlete after news reports from here. Sharing our investigation so it can be investigated there is the natural path.”
O Globo reported last week that Alves, who is Brazilian, had been named in the probe. The Rapids of Major League Soccer confirmed in a statement that a player suspended in connection with the case is a member of their squad, but did not identify him. Alves has not commented publicly.
The investigation began in November, focusing on three matches, and has widened to 11 games, though some were in lower leagues. The matches spanned the second half of 2022 and the first three months of this year, the district attorney said.
Investigators said players were offered between $10,000 and $20,000 to perform specific actions, like receiving yellow cards and giving out penalty kicks. Alleged criminals would profit on betting sites.
Local media reported that suspected criminals mentioned having contacts in Greece and Lithuania, which Cesconetto did not confirm.
“There’s still a lot of material to be looked into,” he said. “We are more focused on what happened here in Brazil.”
Some of the cooperation with foreign authorities could also come via Brazil’s federal police. Justice Minister Flavio Dino said on Wednesday that he will launch a national investigation into match-fixing. The country’s congress is also expected to start its own probe this week.
The Brazilian soccer confederation (CBF) said in a statement it had asked the government to investigate so it can “centralize all the information about the cases under investigation.”
A series of videos aired by TV Globo on Sunday showed suspects celebrating when players allegedly involved in the scheme were booked or committed penalties in Serie A, Serie B or state championship matches.
Another video showed a man holding a pistol and suggesting he could shoot Santos defender Eduardo Bauermann because the player had allegedly failed to deliver.
The AP had access to the case against Bauermann and other players. Evidence with Goias investigators suggests Bauermann exchanged text messages offering to fix matches and suggested in November he could bring in two of his teammates to help the scheme. Bauermann's attorneys have denied wrongdoing by their client.
Also on Monday, prosecutors of Brazil’s sports court recommended the preemptive suspension of eight players who were charged by Cesconetto last week.
One player named in media reports who has not been charged, 37-year-old right back Nino Paraiba, had his contract with top-flight team America terminated. Other Brazilian clubs made similar decisions last week.
“It is a minority of matches, a minority of athletes who are willing to do this,” the Goias state district attorney said. “These are people who tried to fool the betting companies as they searched for an easy profit. And they did it in organized and repeatable fashion.”
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