Botafogo owner Textor says he has proof of Brazilian referees taking bribes to fix matches

March 8 – Without offering any proof, Botafogo owner John Textor has said referees in the Brazilian top flight have been corrupted. 

The American businessman said there was corruption in the league and revealed that he had recordings of referees complaining about not having received agreed bribes.

Prone to controversial remarks, Textor spoke to journalists after Botafogo’s 2-1 victory against Red Bull Bragantino in the qualifiers for the Copa Libertadores.

“The support of the fans tonight will bring us a manager. We have top managers from all over the world looking for me and we have a difficult decision to make. People want to be at Botafogo,” said Textor.

“In the last few games last year, the hate was so strong that it was very difficult for us to watch. It can’t be like that. We’re not going to win championships like that. And fans will find out, over the next 30 days, what really happened in the championship. They know how I feel about it, but I’m not going to put it out in the press. It’s irresponsible. The judges in the sports court should not be making jokes with anyone about manipulations and errors,” he continued.

“For someone to say that there is no corruption in Brazil, when I have referees recorded complaining about not having their bribes paid… Maybe the CBF shouldn’t sue me. I didn’t accuse Ednaldo (Rodrigues). I never said anything about him. He is not corrupt. He is a man who runs an organization that probably needs to manage external corruption better. Because it is a battle against external factors. It’s a battle that exists and is here. There were manipulations and errors in 2021, 2022, 2023 and we have proof.”

Last season, Textor repeatedly attacked Brazilian referees as Botafogo faltered in the final stretch and missed out on a first national crown since 1995.

The club owner said his side were robbed and demanded the resignation of the CBF president. He commissioned a study that showed the ‘real results’ would have given his club ten points more and Palmeiras, the eventual champions, 13 less.

Textor was punished by a local sports tribunal and the CBF is suing the American for slander and defamation.

Textor’s comments upset Brazil’s national refereeing body, the Asssociaçao Nacional dos Arbitros de Futebol (ANAF). In a statement, ANAF called his remarks “irresponsible and frivolous” and said that the American had opened a “war” against Brazilian referees.

ANAF added: “If John Textor doesn’t prove what he said, he should be banned from Brazilian football!”

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