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Palmeiras president calls for Textor ban if match-fixing evidence isn’t presented

| By Kyle Goldsmith
Palmeiras president Leila Pereira has told a parliamentary inquiry commission (CPI) that John Textor should be banned if he doesn’t present evidence of match-fixing in Brazil.
Sporting summer

Botafogo de Futebol e Regatas owner Textor’s accusations of Palmeiras being involved in a game that was manipulated led to a CPI being set up to counter match-fixing in Brazil.

Textor said he had evidence São Paulo players were bribed in a 5-0 defeat against Palmeiras. The Botafogo owner also said he had a recording of a referee who had been bribed.

Textor reaffirmed those allegations in an April CPI. Senator Jorge Kajuru, president of the CPI, called for Pereira to appear before the commission.

Pereira strongly refuted Textor’s allegations, stating he should be banned from Brazilian football if he doesn’t provide sufficient evidence.

“Objectively, I have seen absolutely no evidence,” Pereira said.

“I have no doubt whatsoever that John Textor would have to be banned from Brazilian football, because with these irresponsible, criminal allegations, he affects not only Palmeiras, he affects the entire credibility of this great product that is Brazilian football.”

Textor match-fixing claims

In his CPI appearance, Textor claimed technology he had hired to evaluate human behaviour found five São Paulo players acted abnormally. One player had eight abnormalities, almost three times more than the normal rate.

While Textor believes the game was fixed, he also stated his uncertainty over whether Palmeiras players were involved.

However, he also highlighted two other games involving Palmeiras. One match featured a Vasco da Gama goal being incorrectly disallowed due to a wrongly-placed video assistant referee (VAR) camera. The other was between Palmeiras and Textor’s Botafogo, where the latter had a man sent off before Palmeiras came from behind to win 4-3. Palmeiras would go on to win the league.

Pereira criticised Textor’s claims, saying they were having a negative impact on the perception of Brazilian football. Pereira also said if she knew of any Palmeiras wrongdoing, she would have informed the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF).

“I can’t let a foreigner come here to Brazil and, because he lost a title… disqualify Palmeiras’ very important title,” Pereira declared.

“My observations are in relation to John Textor’s attitude, not Botafogo’s. His attitudes are a great harm to Brazilian football.”

Kajuru demands Textor evidence

Kajuru called upon the 20 Brasileiro Série A clubs to conduct a meeting at the CBF to come up with a deadline for Textor to support his claims.

Pereira, meanwhile, urged stronger punitive measures to be taken against those who manipulate matches to serve as a deterrent.

“Without punishment, we will get absolutely nowhere,” Pereira continued. “Impunity is the seed of the next crime.

“There’s no point in warning, there’s no point in a letter. If you participate in these schemes that harm credibility, harm the result, harm the serious work of other clubs, you will be banned from football.”

Kajuru open to Textor expulsion

On Thursday (6 June), another CPI meeting invited Wilson Luiz Seneme, the CBF’s president of the Arbitration Commission, to speak.

Seneme dismissed the credibility of Textor’s claims, while Kajuru reaffirmed his belief the American businessman should be banned from the country if his allegations didn’t prove to be true.

“With the experience I have, I have not seen or identified any action that could give the slightest reference and transform it into some type of result manipulation,” Seneme said.

“Arbitration errors occur. But turning an arbitration error into a complaint for result manipulation, in my view, is an irresponsible action.”

Kajuru added: “If he proves absolutely nothing, he has to be banned from Brazilian football and expelled from the country for all the mess he is creating.”

Sponsorship criticised

As well as match-fixing, sponsorship of football was also under the spotlight in Thursday’s CPI.

A number of sponsorship deals of clubs have been made since Bill 3,626/2023 passed to regulate sports betting. In May, Vasco da Gama announced the biggest sponsorship in club history, with Betfair becoming kit sponsor of both the men’s and women’s teams.

Betano recently announced it was becoming the sponsor of Brazil’s top-flight. Additionally, the operator is also sponsoring the upcoming Copa America tournament.

Corinthians also penned a BRL370m (£59.8m/€69.4m/$75.9m) deal for VaideBet to become its front-of-shirt sponsor. However, the biggest sponsorship in Brazilian football history is reportedly under threat due to the presence of an intermediary party in the negotiations.

Senator Eduardo Girão, previously president of Fortaleza Esporte Clube, says such deals threaten the reputation of Brazilian football.

“The conflict of interest for me is very clear,” Girão said. “I, as club president, am strictly against it.

“I think we are killing the golden goose in football. People don’t know if they’re watching a real game or a prearranged one.”

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