SPORTS LAW AT THE CROSSROADS

Pinto lawyer says Football Leaks whistleblower is a groundbreaking case for Europe

January 28 – The man behind a string of incriminating leaks that shook the footballing world over the past few weeks “is absolutely aware” of the earthquake he has triggered according to his lawyer.

Hungarian authorities are about to decide if Portuguese national Rui Pinto should be extradited as a hacker or protected as a whistleblower in relation to documents provided to the Football Leaks website, many of whose claims have been published by Der Spiegel in Germany and other media organisations.

Pinto’s lawyer William Bourdon told Der Spiegel that being arrested was “earth-shattering” for him and his family.

“He was presented by the Portuguese media simply as a hacker, whereas he is a significant whistleblower,” said Bourdon who says he advising his client unpaid.

“I consider this to be a historic, unprecedented case for Europe. It is based on the contrasts between the aggressive actions of the Portuguese authorities on the one side and, on the other, the interest of several investigative authorities in obtaining his testimony and access to all the data and hard drives for their investigations.”

“I have spent more than 30 years trying to help people who are in very difficult situations because they have shown extraordinary courage, especially when they have good intentions and are prepared to take risks for the common good. And, of course, the work I have done on behalf of whistleblowers made it very natural for me to represent Rui Pinto.”

“He’s a mix of a very strong character, courageous and perceptive, and he’s also young at 30-years-old. He is both proud of what he did and very humble. But he needs advisers because he’s not always completely aware of all the complexities and consequences of what he did, although he is absolutely aware of the earthquake he triggered.”

Asked how Pinto acquired the documents, which seriously call into question the conduct of a number of leading clubs and superstar players, Bourdon wouldn’t say.

“I cannot explain how he got these documents. The only thing that I can say is that this story has its origins in a love for football. And football has been damaged by the things he has discovered,” he told Der Spiegel.

“And that had a domino effect. The more documents he got access to, the greater his outrage and indignation grew, and the more he considered it to be his duty to reveal to the world that his passion, football, has been so damaged by criminality, greed, money laundering and tax evasion.”

“It is obviously not my role to confirm if he is a hacker or not. I will only say that he had access to a lot of different data. And, in his opinion, what he discovered created a very strong duty to disclose that information.”

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