Benfica football club has announced that it is suing former MEP and career activist against corruption and human rights abuses Ana Gomes.
This is the second time this year that the club has said it is suing Gomes.
The reason this time: comments she made recently over the 126 million euro sale of 19-year-old footballer João Félix to Atlético de Madrid.
They were just five words – in response to a tweet by journalist Bruno Faria Lopes in which he said he was looking for “a rational explanation” for such “high numbers” being paid for a player of “just 19 years old who played half a season in a third-category championship”.
“It wouldn’t be money-laundering?” tweeted back Gomes – and so started the ructions.
Gomes’ focus on the murky side of the football industry is well-known. She is a champion of Rui Pinto, the Football Leaks whistleblower – currently behind bars awaiting prosecution (click here) – and her remarks back in March about Benfica’s president Luís Filipe Vieira saw the club vow it would be suing her then (click here).
Says Público, “Gomes affirms that, up till today, she has not been notified about any legal case” having been lodged against her. But today, ostensibly because her five words exceeded the bounds of “mere freedom of expression”, Benfica has published a text on its official site to say that it is taking the issue “to the organs that are constitutionally competent” to appreciate it, namely the courts.
By coincidence – or perhaps not – Gomes called on a number of Portuguese and European entities earlier this week to “investigate the eventual crimes of fraud, tax evasion and money-laundering” that could be going ahead in the guise of player transfers between football clubs.
Indeed the challenge suggested some of these transfers could be “currently underway and involving pharaonic sums”.
Gomes letter, written in the context of still being an MEP, went to various members of the government, explains Público, as well as to the Attorney General, the governor of the Bank of Portugal, CMVM banking regulator Gabriela Figueiredo Dias and PJ national director Luís Neves.
In the wider context, it was addressed also to Europol and Eurojust as well as ‘other European entities’.
Says the paper, Gomes has “preferred not to comment” on Benfica’s announcement today.
TSF radio however says Gomes “says she has one comment to make on the intention of Benfica to sue her: Please do”.