By Andrew Warshaw
January 20 – East Timor has been kicked out of the 2023 Asian Cup and fined $76,000 for fielding several Brazilian-born footballers with fake documents, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) announced today.
The ban followed a probe launched last summer, in conjunction with FIFA, into the eligibility of certain players after qualifying matches for the 2019 Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates.
Late last year Insideworldfootball saw copies of letters sent by the Palestinian Football Association to both governing bodies complaining that East Timor fielded seven ineligible Brazilian-born players when the sides drew 1-1 on October 8 in a World Cup qualifier.
Now the AFC says it has discovered that no fewer than 12 Brazilian-born East Timor players used fake documents for both Asian Cup and World Cup qualifiers to claim they were eligible through Timorese heritage.
“Nine of the footballers participated in a total of 29 matches falling under the jurisdiction of the AFC, and seven matches falling under the jurisdiction of FIFA,” the confederation said.
The 29 AFC matches in which ineligible players participated have all been forfeited and the AFC has ordered East Timor FA (FTTL) general secretary Amandio de Araujo Sarmento to be banned from all football-related activity for three years and fined $9,000 for being liable, together with the FTTL, for the falsified documents.
“The investigation identified 12 Brazilian-born footballers that were registered in the AFC Administration System with falsified Timorese birth or baptismal certificates,” the AFC said.
“These documents were submitted to the AFC to demonstrate that the footballers were eligible to participate for FFTL (East Timor FA) representative teams through one or both of their parents being born in Timor-Leste. Such particulars were found to have been falsified.”
“The investigation made no finding regarding the validity of the Timor-Leste citizenship held by those footballers. That is a question for the state authorities of Timor-Leste,” it added.
Among the players named are defender Diogo Santos Rangel, who began his senior career at Vasco da Gama and Palmeiras. Also named is Fellipe Bertoldo, a midfielder for Botafogo in 2014, and Jaime Braganca, who played Portuguese club Maritimo.
The team, nicknamed ‘the Little Samba Nation’, have five wins in just under 14 years. In all 36 matches were scrutinised in the investigation that ran from July 2012 to October 2015, though the AFC said it was “aware” of ineligible participation at previous events but was “unable to retrieve team line-up data for those matches”.
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