UEFA handed down the punishment, which includes a €30 million fine, to the Premier League giants for breaching Financial Fair Play rules.
Following an investigation, the Adjudicatory Chamber of UEFA’s Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) found City guilty of “overstating its sponsorship revenue” between 2012 and 2016. Most damaging were emails and accounting documents which appeared to show that City’s owner, Sheikh Mansour, of the Abu Dhabi ruling family, was mostly funding the huge, €70m annual sponsorship of the club’s shirt, stadium and academy by his country’s airline, Etihad.
The source of the leaks was traced to Rui Pinto, a Portuguese hacker, who worked out of his modest home under a pseudonym. Pinto spend three years sending confidential information in 70million documents from top club officials to German magazine Der Spiegel. At the time 31 year-old Pinto was living in Hungary but was subsequently extradited to Portugal where he remains in a Lisbon prison awaiting trial in relation to 147 charges of illegitimate access, violation of correspondence, computer sabotage and attempted extortion but within the context of Portuguese football.
Speaking to German magazine Spiegel, Pinto, who launched the website ‘Football Leaks’, said that football is “untouchable” before the courts, accusing the authorities of not investigating the industry due to its “high public interest”.
He continued, “If you look at Benfica, the most important club in Portugal, you can see that it is like an octopus of influence among the elite. The club has very good connections with the police, and often gives free VIP tickets to the prosecutors and politicians for the games. It would be a huge conflict of interest if they ever had to investigate Benfica,” he says.
It is obvious that this story will have many more twists and turns both here in Portugal and the wider European football scene. CW