João Vale e Azevedo

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João Vale e Azevedo
Born (1957-05-17) 17 May 1957 (age 60)
Lisbon, Portugal
Occupation Former lawyer and former president of S.L. Benfica
Criminal charge fraud[1]
Criminal penalty 11.5 years
Criminal status On parole
Spouse(s) Filipa Vale e Azevedo[2]

João António de Araújo Vale e Azevedo (born 17 May 1957) is a former Portuguese lawyer convicted of fraud, who was the 31st president of S.L. Benfica.

Presidency of Benfica[edit]

A drawing of Vale e Azevedo and a description of his presidency at Museu Benfica

On 31 October 1997, Vale e Azevedo was elected as the 31st president of Portuguese club S.L. Benfica, succeeding Manuel Damásio, in the second most contested election in the club's history.[3] He won the elections with 51.5% of 19,824 votes. Soon after, he signed Graeme Souness as coach of the football team. One year and a half later, Souness left the club and stated: "Vale e Azevedo lies when he looks in the eyes. Be careful, this man is dangerous".[4][5]

On 6 November, Vale e Azevedo declared void three contracts between Benfica and Olivedesportos and announced he would take the case to court. The contracts, which were related to static advertising and broadcasting rights of Benfica football matches, had been signed on 28 March 1996 by his predecessor, Damásio. Eight days later, Vale e Azevedo signed an agreement protocol with SIC for the broadcasting of Benfica matches at the Estádio da Luz for the 1997–98 season. On 8 February 1999, Benfica signed a contract with SIC for the broadcasting rights of all home matches in the league between 1999–2000 and 2003–04 seasons. On 2 November 2000, the three contracts with Olivedesportos were declared void in court.[6]

During his three-year presidency that ended on 31 October 2000, Benfica accumulated huge debts and occasionally was not able to pay taxes or player salaries.[7] Moreover, the football team did not win any silverware. Some of his highlights were the "discovery" of coach José Mourinho and the cycling team's Volta a Portugal victory in 1999.[8] Vale e Azevedo was succeeded by Manuel Vilarinho.[3]

Imprisonment[edit]

On 16 February 2001, Vale e Azevedo was arrested at his home in Almoçageme, Sintra. Months later, on 7 August, he was sent to jail. Prosecutors were concerned that he would leave the country or tamper with evidence. They investigated allegations that he kept at least $1 million (£680,000), from the football transfer of Sergei Ovchinnikov from Benfica to Alverca FC, and laundered cash through offshore banks in the British Virgin Islands.[4] They investigated 14 counts of embezzlement. At the time it was reported that Vale e Azevedo's yacht was paid with part of that money.[4][7]

On 17 April 2002, Vale e Azevedo was sentenced to four and a half years in the "Ovchinnikov" case and was detained in Lisbon. On 8 July 2004, he was released on €250,000 bail in the "Euroárea" case. On 30 March 2007, he was sentenced to five years in prison in the "Ribafria" case. Months later, on 11 July, he was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison in the "Dantas da Cunha" case. On 5 May 2008, the National Republican Guard went to his house to detain him in connection to the latter case but he was in London, England. Two months later, he turned himself in at the police station in Belgravia, west London, on 8 July, following a European Arrest Warrant.[4][9]

On 13 November 2012, Vale e Azevedo was extradited to Portugal. He was then sentenced to ten years in prison on 2 July 2013 for six crimes and ordered to pay Benfica about €7 million for the money he kept from the transfers of footballers Scott Minto (£500,000), Gary Charles (£1,200,000) and Tahar El Khalej ($850,000).[10] On 7 June 2016, he was released from prison on parole after serving five-sixths of the 11.5-year sentence.[11][12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Ex-Benfica president Joao Vale e Azevedo extradited to serve fraud prison sentence". Huffington Post UK. 16 March 2012. Retrieved 15 June 2016. 
  2. ^ "Vale e Azevedo deixou hoje a prisão da Carregueira" [Vale e Azevedo left the Carregueira prison today]. Diário Digital (in Portuguese). 7 June 2016. Retrieved 15 June 2016. 
  3. ^ a b https://www.publico.pt/noticia/vieira-reeleito-na-presidencia-do-benfica-com-83-dos-votos-1569011
  4. ^ a b c d "Vale e Azevedo: cronologia dos acontecimentos" [Vale e Azevedo: chronology of events]. TVI24 (in Portuguese). 8 July 2007. Retrieved 9 June 2016. 
  5. ^ Madureira, Nuno (14 February 2014). "A noite em que Möller-Nielsen ficou às portas do Benfica" [The night that Möller-Nielsen almost joined Benfica]. Maisfutebol (in Portuguese). Retrieved 10 June 2016. 
  6. ^ "Benfica-Olivedesportos - cronologia de um caso" [Benfica-Olivedesportos - chronology of a case]. Maisfutebol (in Portuguese). 3 November 2000. Retrieved 10 June 2016. 
  7. ^ a b "Benfica face financial uncertainty". BBC Sport. 25 September 2001. Retrieved 8 June 2016. 
  8. ^ "João Vale e Azevedo". S.L. Benfica. Retrieved 16 June 2016. 
  9. ^ "Former Benfica president arrested". BBC News. 8 July 2008. Retrieved 9 June 2016. 
  10. ^ Durão Machado, Catarina (3 July 2013). "Vale e Azevedo condenado a mais dez anos de prisão" [Vale e Azevedo sentenced to ten more years in prison]. Público (in Portuguese). Retrieved 9 June 2016. 
  11. ^ "Vale e Azevedo já foi libertado" [Vale e Azevedo has been released]. Público (in Portuguese). 7 June 2016. Retrieved 9 June 2016. 
  12. ^ "Vale e Azevedo deixa prisão em liberdade condicional" [João Vale e Azevedo leaves prison on parole]. SAPO. 7 June 2016. Retrieved 16 June 2016. 
Preceded by
Manuel Damásio
President of Benfica
1997–2000
Succeeded by
Manuel Vilarinho

Further reading[edit]

  • Vale e Azevedo, João (December 2002). A armadilha [The entrapment] (Third ed.). Letras Gordas. ISBN 972-8789-00-9. 
  • Pragal Colaço, António (2009). A vida de Vale e Azevedo; do Benfica a Londres, toda a história de um condenado procurado pela justiça [The life of Vale e Azevedo; from Benfica to London, all the history of a wanted fugitive] (First ed.). Presslivre. ISBN 978-972-8996-19-2.