Meet Rui Pinto - The whistle-blower behind Manchester City's prospective Champions League ban

Rui Pinto is still in custody with respect to his hacking and leaking ventures.
Rui Pinto is still in custody with respect to his hacking and leaking ventures.
Modified 15 Feb 2020

Reigning Premier League champions Manchester City have been hit by a two-season Champions League ban by UEFA in addition to a €30 million fine. This is the aftermath of the club misleading the European football governing body and breaching the financial fair-play rules which all clubs have to adhere to.

City responded soon after the news broke out with an official club statement which said that the club will appeal the order at the CAS (Court of Arbitration of Sport) at the 'earliest opportunity' and that the process will be 'prejudicial'.

Now reports have revealed that the evidence for the Manchester club's breach of conduct has been extracted from the leaks of infamous football hacker, Rui Pinto.

Also Read: Manchester City UEFA ban: A timeline of events

Dortmund fans show support to the imprisoned hacker.
Dortmund fans show support to the imprisoned hacker.

Rui Pinto and the 'Football Leaks'

Pinto, who operated under the name of 'John', created the Football Leaks in 2015, and since then the leaks have been responsible for exposing everything from tax fraud to clubs breaching Financial Fair-Play rules.

The 31-year-old claims that he currently holds 70 million documents and 3.4 terabytes of information, including personal emails related to European clubs in his data collection - the reveal of which could lead the world to the dark side of the football.

The Portuguese hacker has been in jail since March 2019 and was recently denied appeal last week which makes it clear that he will be tried on 90 different counts of trial. He currently awaits the decision of another appeal from the Lisbon Court of Appeal.

Pinto's big reveal

The Football Leaks hacker was extradited a year ago from Budapest, Hungary where he was operating from, back to his him country of Portugal. He has been in judicial custody since then.

In December 2019, he spoke to news outlet Der Spiegel in an all-revealing interview about the leaks and his time behind prison.

He said, "I was aware that anything could happen. I knew that Portuguese authorities prosecute whistleblowers, so I had to be ready for that. The Portuguese authorities are afraid of what I know and that's why it is important that I not lose my mind."
"In the beginning, I wrote notes related to the case in my notebook, but then it was taken from me. It wasn't the prison guards who did it, but the Portuguese prosecutors. They do anything they want. It was a month before they returned the notebook to me."

Guilty hacker or a Whistle-blower?

After the news broke that Pinto has been jailed for a crime which did more good than harm, many football fans showed their disapproval on Twitter by creating the #FreePinto hashtag.

While Manchester City intend to appeal, it seems a pretty non-bailable offence this time around. The European and English heavyweights are all set to miss out on football's biggest club competition in shocking circumstances and it remains to be seen what comes of this in the coming weeks, as the world of football has been stunned by these recent revelations.

Also Read: What next for Guardiola and the Premier League champions?

Published 15 Feb 2020
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