Since last September they are publishing confidential documents concerning the grey side of football economy. They are the anonymous members of Football Leaks. Using a russian web-server they are spreading some truths that football and finance powerful people would love to keep hidden. It's a big amount of data, numbers and transactions that sometimes confirm former suspicions, and sometimes open unthought scenarios. Their activity scares a lot of powerful people in football, and some complaints have already been placed. We thought it would be interesting to hear their point of view, so we arranged a collective email interview (with contributions from @baavin, @domrousseaublog, @donodocirco and @pippoevai), and published in english, french, italian and portuguese.
First of all, why does Football Leaks focus so much in Portugal? Why, in your opinion, is this country so important for football shadow economy?
When we started this project, back in September, our main goal was to expose all the lies and controversies within Portuguese clubs, because we are based in Portugal. This last silly-season was the most intense ever in Portugal, there were some shocking transfers, controversy and many unanswered questions, mostly involving Sporting Lisbon. We decided to help the people understand what really happened so we focused on unmasking that.
In the meantime we were getting a lot of documents that include other Leagues and especially the TPO. Currently we are focused on that fact, because we think the people and the press need to understand the damaging interferences of TPO inside football clubs policy, and after analyzing several ERPA’s from different companies, we realized that Doyen Sports is clearly the most damaging for clubs with a lot of aggressive clausules that break the contractual stability between football clubs and players.
Have you exchanged any emails with Nelio Lucas? What did you talk about?
We never spoke with Nélio Lucas, and actually we were clearly surprised by Doyen’s accusations about pressure and demands. The timing was perfect (the beginning of Doyen/Twente scandal) and the only explanation for such acts was a desperate attempt to discredit Football Leaks.
You’ve been accused to steal documents and intellectual property. What do you reply to this?
It’s possible that by publishing those documents we are breaching several intellectual property laws worldwide, but that’s the only way to show the world the truth. For example soon we will expose that backdating contracts is a common thing in TPO deals with clubs. The agreement between Braga and Vela Management Limited for the player Vincent Sasso is dated 30th March 2015, but we will show that it’s was really signed in June.
You have published documents that are quite recent, one of them from a portuguese league meeting that took place just a week ago. Are you still searching and getting new sources of material to publish?
Yes, and we encourage people to send us more and more documents.
Why do you only release 1/2/3 topics per day? It seems like you are filtering the releases and selectively choosing what should be leaked. Why don't you dump all the documents at once and let journalists and fans do its analysis?
We are trying to keep this concept alive. If we dump all the documents at once, probably after 1 month no one will talk about it anymore.
There is a theory running about that Doyen Capital's servers are the only source for all this information, including all documents regarding other clubs such as FC Porto or Sporting. Can you confirm this?
That’s incorrect, we’ve got a huge variety of sources.
Which are your motivations? Is your network of advisors wide? Do you want to denounce the system, to reform the system, or to explode the system?
Our motivation is simple, the football fans never know what really happens behind the curtain, so we want to expose all that. We love the essence of the game, but we hate all the business involved and how offshore entities were getting attached to clubs and players. Thanks to our activity the people and the press are finally understanding the damaging interferences of TPO inside football clubs policy, which also violates FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players article 18bis.
The Twente case was a scandal in the Netherlands but the documents we’ve been posting show it's not only a problem within Twente, but also affects several other European clubs. The difference is that KNVB respects the law, and other Football Federations like Portugal, Spain or Brazil don't.
Why so few documents on Mendes and Gestifute? Difficulties of access to the documents or your voluntary choice?
For example, back in September the amount of people accusing us of working on Benfica’s behalf was ridiculous. People asked us to publish about this, about that, but we can’t publish about what we don’t have. Sadly looks like we don’t have many Gestifute documents.
How do you make the selection of the documents that you publish? Did you receive any support from the football world?
The selection starts randomly, but then we start making the connections. It’s a hard and consuming process, but also fun because we are learning a lot everyday. We pay a lot of attention to the reactions on social networks, and nowadays we’ve seen really powerful statements about us, surprisingly most from the United States. It’s like we started a new era on sport.
Do you still keep documents in reserve on the hidden shareholders of Doyen?
According to all the details we know about Doyen Sports, there are no hidden shareholders. Everything was exposed already, but we will keep analyzing the information, and if we detect something new we will announce it.