According to reports in Portugal, Benfica, the top team in the Primeira Liga, is currently under investigation for match-fixing.
The Portuguese club has been at the center of numerous scandals in recent years, forcing Luis Filipe Vieira to resign as the club’s president in the summer of 2021.
In 2020, Rui Costa was appointed vice president of the club, however, after Luis Filipe Vieira resigned as president, Costa assumed the role.
According to Portuguese media, the investigation relates to the four years between 2016 and 2020 and was sparked by prosecutors accessing hacked emails.
He was arrested on charges of tax evasion, aggravated fraud, forgery, and money laundering after a civil lawsuit was filed by lawyer and club member Jorge Mattamaouros, who followed through with his promise to drop the charges if Vieira stepped down as president.
He is currently under investigation for fixing matches in that period, along with every other board member from 2016 to 2020, including the current president Costa, who took over from him after serving as vice president.
According to reports in the Portuguese media, the club is charged with profiting from several manipulated results.
These allegations are based on hacked emails that prosecutors accessed and examined, which reportedly indicate that they did so repeatedly.
Although Benfica testified in court and publicly acknowledged the investigation’s existence, it has remained silent on the subject.
In a brief statement, Benfica acknowledged the investigation and stated that it was still ongoing, but no additional information was given.
Taking into account the news, Benfica confirmed that it appeared in court on January 3, as well as, among others, the members of the Board of Directors from 2016 to 2020 and those who are currently in office.
“Benfica SAD won’t make any further comments because the trial is secret by law. As has always been the case up until now, Benfica expresses its complete willingness to cooperate with the relevant authorities”, the club’s statement added.
Benfica refuted allegations that they paid a former Portuguese referee €1.9 million for favorable decisions at the beginning of last year.
A third-party business set up by Benfica called “Best for Business” is said to have given the money to Bruno Paixao.
If proven guilty of match-fixing, the repercussions would be severe, Juventus suffered a similar fate in 2006 and was subject to heavy punishment, titles suspension, and relegation.
Between 2016 and 2020, Benfica won eight trophies, including three league crowns, as a result, they are now in danger of losing a sizable number of honors.
Additionally, the people under investigation, including Costa given his significant participation during that time, may face charges and get prison terms.
It’s also feasible that the club won’t face any athletic consequences, instead, only fines and individual offenders would likely face punishment from the law.