In a new controversy that could be dismissed as a case of the pot calling the kettle black, former TV presenter Carlos Cruz – serving time as a convicted paedophile – has accused former Socialist prime minister José Sócrates of buying votes so that Portugal could host the Euro 2004 football championship.
It is an issue that admittedly rakes up ‘ancient ground’ – and nothing by comparison to the judicial investigation for corruption that saw the former PM jailed for a large part of 2015 – but then Cruz has been in and out of jail for child sex abuse in the last 12 years, and it could be said that he needs something to encourage people to buy his autobiography.
Presenting Uma Vida in front of hundreds at Hotel Altis, Lisbon, on Tuesday, the revelations have hotly been refuted by both Sócrates and Gilberto Madaíl, the man in charge of the Portuguese Football Federation at the time – but confirmed by Madaíl’s former vice-president António Boronha.
While Boronha has added even more detail to the claims, Sócrates has told SIC television that the story is something that only could come from “the light of delirium”, while Madaíl has said it is “all lies”.
Sócrates’ lawyer, Pedro Delille, has nonetheless said “it doesn’t seem adequate to present a complaint” as Cruz is clearly going through “a difficult time”, as he serves the remainder of his prison sentence meted out as a result of the convoluted Casa Pia child sex abuse trial.
Cruz, 74, has always maintained his innocence – a situation that has prolonged his time in jail, as parole judges concluded he was not demonstrating sufficient remorse.
Nonetheless, if Público’s report that “hundreds” bought Uma Vida on Tuesday is correct, then people may be availing themselves of Cruz’s version of history as we write.
Correio da Manhã claims Cruz claims that Sócrates vowed of the Euro: “We cannot lose this (chance to host the competition) because of money”, before seeing to it that Madaíl handed a large envelope stuffed with dollars to the head of an unnamed multinational along with the offer of a villa rental in the Algarve, costing around €90,000.
“As the dollar was worth more than the sun of the Algarve, our friend kept the money and never set foot in Portugal,” Cruz is understood to have written.
But the Euro 2004 was well and truly awarded to this country, and saw among millions of euros worth of spin-off business, and the building of the Algarve’s ‘white elephant’ football stadium.
UEFA has reacted to Cruz’s revelations with diplomacy. It will not be opening an investigation, writes Público, but it will be watching future developments, and could take measures “if the version of the facts related by Carlos Cruz comes to be substantiated by proof”.
This seems to have already happened. Former federation VP Boronha gave his interview to Bola TV, the country’s football channel, within hours of the story breaking.
“I do not have any doubt that what Carlos Cruz is saying is the truth”, he said.”I have absolute certainty that the Federation, beyond its charm and good manners, will have offered something extra.
The recipient of Portugal’s envelope filled with dollars to whom Cruz refers was “the president of the Azerbaijan (football) federation”, Boronha continued. “It is not news”, he told his interviewer, adding that the man’s daughter “spent months in Portugal”.
The man was paid by the Portuguese federation “not through official channels”, he added, affirming he (Boronha) had “no doubt” of the pressure Cruz suggests was brought to bear by Madaíl and José Sócrates.
“Sócrates, as secretary of state, developed the lobbying tactic with Carlos Cruz and with Madaíl”, Boronha told Bola TV. “They did what they could to win the organisation (of Euro 2004)”.