Football Leaks

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Football Leaks
Created byRui Pinto
LaunchedSeptember 2015
Current statusOnline, but inactive

Football Leaks was a leak in association football revealing "murky" financial transactions in the world of European professional football and exposes the tax tricks employed by some of the continent's biggest stars. It began with a series of investigations published in December 2016[1] and November 2018[2] by media partners of the European Investigative Collaborations (EIC), such as Der Spiegel,[3] Mediapart,[4] El Mundo,[5] Expresso,[6] Falter,[7] L'espresso,[8] and Le Soir.[9]

Initially, Football Leaks was a website containing confidential information about notable footballers and clubs.[10][11][12][13][14]

Rui Pinto, the author of Football Leaks,[15] was arrested in Budapest, Hungary, on 16 January 2019 at the request of the Portuguese authorities for suspicion of attempted qualified extortion, violation of secrecy and illegally accessing information.[16][17] He was extradited to Portugal and has been charged with 147 crimes by the Public Ministry.[18][19]

Rui Pinto was found guilty of three counts of intercepting correspondence and accessing private emails, one count of attempted extortion and five counts of unauthorized entry and hacking into computers belonging to the Doyen Sports Investment Fund, the Portuguese attorney general’s office, and a Lisbon law firm.[20] As a result, he was sentenced to a suspended sentence of four years.[20]


The website was set up in September 2015 and reveals transfer fee, wage and contract information about famous footballers. Its first leak was about third-party agreements between FC Twente and Doyen Sports, which led to the Royal Dutch Football Association banning Twente from European football for three years.[10][11] Football Leaks also revealed that AS Monaco paid €43 million for Radamel Falcao, rather than around €60 million as had been estimated.[21] In addition, the website revealed that, when Neymar signed for FC Barcelona, he received an €8.5 million signing fee, with a buyout clause of €190 million (£152 million), and that he earns €77,000 a week.[22][23][24] A leak revealed that Gareth Bale's transfer from Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid was over €100 million, more than the €96 million the club paid for Cristiano Ronaldo.[25] The website also revealed that Ronaldo earned €1.1 million for doing a photoshoot with Mobily.[26] Another leak related to James Rodríguez's transfer from Monaco to Real Madrid for €75 million plus €15 million in additional clauses.[27]

In January 2016, it was claimed that Football Leaks was being investigated by the Portuguese authorities over claims of blackmail and extortion. Later in February, Liga Nacional de Fútbol Profesional president Javier Tebas blamed FIFA for the leaks of contract details of three La Liga players.[28] In April that year, the website announced that it was temporarily ceasing its leaks.[29][30][31]

In November 2018, Football Leaks said that there had been undercover talks about the creation of a new continental club competition, the European Super League, which would begin play in 2021 which ultimately would not happen, though the Super League was announced in 2021.[32][33] In the same month, the website claimed that both Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain were violating UEFA Financial Fair Play Regulations. More than one year before, Manchester City faced punishment from UEFA for the exact issue, and one month after, UEFA cleared Paris Saint-Germain of breaching FFP rules, a decision that was later upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in March 2019.[34]

European Investigative Collaborators (EIC)[edit]

In December 2016, Der Spiegel and other partners at the European Investigative Collaborations (EIC) network (including L'Espresso, Le Soir, NRC Handelsblad, The Romanian Centre for Investigative Journalism / The Black Sea, Mediapart, Politiken, Falter, NewsWeek, El Mundo, The Sunday Times, and Expresso) began publishing information about tax avoidance by several football stars.[35] Some of the information was collected by Football Leaks.[36] The leaks include "about 18.6 million documents, including contracts, e-mails and spreadsheets, which served as material for investigative journalism work by 60 journalists from 12 European media."[37] On 5 December, El Mundo revealed a judicial decree from Spanish judge Arturo Zamarriego that prohibits EIC from publishing information until "the legal investigation of its obtaining".[37] Reporters Without Borders described the decision as "an attempt to censor on a continental scale".[38][better source needed]

Third-party ownership in association football[edit]

The leaks revealed Third-Party Ownership (TPO) of footballers, "whereby a player's economic rights are owned in stakes by investors".[39] According to the Football Leaks documents obtained by Der Spiegel and shared with the EIC, certain individuals, international corporations and even large banks were implicated.[40] One of the creators of Football Leaks conducted an interview with Der Spiegel in February 2016 using the pseudonym John.[41]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Football Leaks | EIC".
  2. ^ "Football Leaks Continues | EIC".
  3. ^ "Football Leaks enthüllt schmutzige Geschäfte im Profifußball". Der Spiegel. 2 December 2016.
  4. ^ "La folle histoire de "Football Leaks"". 2 December 2016.
  5. ^ "Football leaks | EL MUNDO".
  6. ^ "Ronaldo investigado por não declarar mais de €60 milhões".
  7. ^ "FALTER Archiv -".
  8. ^ "Football Leaks, i primi nomi della Serie A: Spuntano Higuain, Iturbe e Alex Sandro". 5 December 2016.
  9. ^ "Football Leaks: Les aventures offshore de Cristiano Ronaldo". 2 December 2016.
  10. ^ a b Gordan, James Patrick (16 December 2015). "Football Has Its Own Version Of WikiLeaks Now". Paste. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
  11. ^ a b Bucholtz, Andrew (16 December 2015). "Shadowy Football Leaks Site Exposes Soccer Clubs' Questionable Dealings, Faces Reprisals". Awful Announcing. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
  12. ^ Borden, Sam; Montague, James (15 December 2015). "Mysterious Website Aims to Shed Light on Soccer Dealings". The New York Times.
  13. ^ Marcotti, Gabriele. "No smoking gun in latest Football Leaks controversy".
  14. ^ "Google Notícias". Google Notícias.
  15. ^ "The brains behind Football Leaks named". Marca. 7 July 2016. Retrieved 21 September 2019.
  16. ^ Hacker behind 'Football Leaks' arrested in Hungary ZDNet
  17. ^ Demony, Catarina; Almeida, Gonçalo (23 January 2019). "Arrested Portuguese hacker is Football Leaks 'whistleblower': lawyers". Reuters. Retrieved 27 January 2019.
  18. ^ "'Hacker' Rui Pinto já está em Portugal" [Hacker Rui Pinto is already in Portugal]. SAPO Desporto (in Portuguese). 21 March 2019. Retrieved 23 March 2019.
  19. ^ Oliveira, Mariana; Dantas, Miguel (19 September 2019). "Ministério Público acusa Rui Pinto de 147 crimes" [Public Ministry charge Rui Pinto with 147 crimes]. Público (in Portuguese). Retrieved 21 September 2019.
  20. ^ a b Sanghera (11 September 2023). "Court convicts Portuguese hacker in Football Leaks trial and gives him a 4-year suspended sentence". Retrieved 19 October 2023.
  21. ^ Kiely, Ben. "Football Leaks reveals exactly how much Monaco paid for Radamel Falcao". Archived from the original on 5 June 2016. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  22. ^ Brown, Luke (11 April 2016). "Football Leaks reveal Neymar's Barcelona contract dwarfed by rival stars". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  23. ^ "Football Leaks reveal Neymar earns modest £77,000 a week". Sky Sports. 12 April 2016. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  24. ^ Fernandez-Abascal, Eduardo (11 April 2016). "Neymar: Football Leaks reveals Barcelona star earns almost €10m a season with €190m release clause". International Business Times. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  25. ^ Percy, John (21 January 2016). "Gareth Bale contract leak sparks panic at Real Madrid". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  26. ^ "Football Leaks: €1.1m for a photo shoot". Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  27. ^ Lea, Greg (4 April 2016). "Football Leaks: James Rodriguez could cost Real Madrid €90M". Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  28. ^ "Tebas: FIFA at fault for contract leaks". Football Espana. 10 February 2016. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
  29. ^ Paul, Sumeet (27 April 2016). "Controversial website Football Leaks could be lining up big revelations". Caughtoffside. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  30. ^ Buschmann, Rafael (6 May 2016). "Enthüllungsplattform: Football Leaks legt Pause ein". Der Spiegel (in German). Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  31. ^ "Football Leaks anuncia interrupção". Diário de Notícias (in Portuguese). 27 April 2016. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  32. ^ "Football Leaks claims Euro Super League talks held by clubs". BBC Sport. 2 November 2018. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
  33. ^ Panja, Tariq (18 April 2021). "Top European Soccer Teams Agree to Join Breakaway League". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 18 April 2021.
  34. ^ Sanghera, Mandeep; Alistair, Magowan (6 November 2018). "Man City and Paris St-Germain 'are cheating and should be punished'". BBC Sport. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
  35. ^ "Football Leaks: Ronaldo and Mourinho accused of tax avoidance". BBC News. 3 December 2016. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
  36. ^ "Football Leaks, the soccer's business secrets: Cristiano Ronaldo and Mourinho go offshore". 2 December 2016. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
  37. ^ a b Recuero, Marisa (5 December 2016). "El juez Zamarriego prohíbe difundir Football Leaks en toda Europa" [Judge Zamarriego prohibits publishing of Football Leaks in all Europe]. El Mundo (in Spanish). Retrieved 15 December 2016.
  38. ^ "Football Leaks revelations: the second week in summary". EIC. 2016. Archived from the original on 12 October 2017. Retrieved 12 October 2017.
  39. ^ "Football Leaks: The Dirty Tricks of Doyen Sports". The Black Sea. 21 December 2016. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  40. ^ "The Doyen Group". El Mundo. 17 December 2016. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  41. ^ Buschman, Rafael (28 February 2016). "Wanted Man: A Visit with A Football Leaks Creator". Der Spiegel. Retrieved 11 May 2016.

External links[edit]