Rui Pinto’s Verdict is Nigh after Confessing to his Crimes in Court

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By Jonathan Lewis | 10th Jan 2023

Rui Pinto was born in Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal on 20th October 1988 and established the “Football Leaks” website in September 2015 to expose and publish confidential financial information from the Football World. He likes to paint himself as a whistleblower but it would be more accurate to describe him as a Hacker.

He is being accused of having used illegal methods to gather the data he leaked, by accessing into private servers and exfiltrating hundreds of internal documents and communications belonging to Arif Efendi owned Doyen

Pinto had previously hacked into the Caledonian Bank in the Cayman Islands and stole €300,000. Rui Pinto admitted to stealing private information and to having extorted money from Nelio Lucas, then CEO of Doyen Sport and Arif Efendi before posting the information online.


 Damage to Football

Football, like any other major global business, relies on confidentiality. By illegally exposing private information concerning players’ contracts and other matters Rui Pinto did serious damage to football.

Those individuals and clubs which were seriously affected by Pinto’s actions include Cristiano Ronaldo, Radamel Falcao, James Rodríguez, Iker Casillas, England’s Manchester City, Portugal’s FC Porto and France’s Paris Saint-Germain.

Plans from big clubs for the formation of a ‘European Super League’ were also exposed by Pinto.

A Game of Secrets

A Game of Secrets (2022) is an HBO documentary directed by Danish filmmaker Niels Borchert Holm who had previously directed This Way to the White House (2020) and A World Cup of Spies (2018) about the website Football Leaks that started revealing private information from the football industry in 2015.

This led to investigations of superstar football players, major football clubs, and FIFA’s President at the time, Sepp Blatter.

The documentary was not well received with one reviewer stating “Very poor to say the least, superficial and some might even say distracting from the real issues”.

Arif Efendi’s Opinion

Arif Efendi stated “Despite initial impressions that Mr Pinto was mainly interested in uncovering secrets for the sake of transparency, further investigation dug up payments to a Cayman Islands bank account registered in his name, throwing doubt over the true intentions behind the leaks”

Efendi continued “This is something that has been often overlooked. For me, this is the main takeaway from the film”.


Arrest and Trial

Pinto was identified as the source of Football Leaks by Portuguese magazine Sábado in September 2018. He was arrested in Budapest on 16th January 2019 at the request of the Portuguese authorities for suspicion of attempted qualified extortion, violation of secrecy and illegally accessing information.

His lawyers argued that as a whistleblower he was entitled to protection under European law. However he was extradited to Portugal two months later and was charged with 147 crimes by the Public Ministry.

Portuguese prosecutors claim that Pinto attempted to extort Doyen Sports for one million Euros using the identity of Artem Lobuzov, while Pinto’s legal team stated that “the team set up by the Public Prosecution to investigate criminality in the football world seems to be more dedicated to pursuing those who denounce it than investigating those who practice the crimes”.

His case was taken up by French lawyer William Bourdon, who had previously defended Julian Assange and Edward Snowden.

The trial started on 4th September 2020, surrounded by strong security measures, never seen before in Portugal. In a short statement before the panel of judges, Pinto initially said he was a whistleblower who made public a lot of important information which would otherwise never be known, and that he never demanded money. Pinto recently admitted that this statement was false.

In several trial sessions, dubious and allegedly criminal acts perpetrated by those in charge of the investigation were identified, having led the panel of judges to make two reports aimed at investigating the conduct of inspectors of the Portuguese Judicial Police.






Jonathan Lewis is an MFF Sports Writer

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