23 April 2020, 12h45

Having been contacted by the New York Times about a news story they were making about the process currently underway involving hacker Rui Pinto - to which, it should be noted, Sport Lisboa e Benfica is totally unrelated, having no involvement, no connection or participation in any quality -, we decided to publish in full the questions and answers that, on our behalf, were given by the legal team representing the Club...

Question 1. I have come across a 49-page Benfica presentation that explains the club's objectives and one of those appears to be to influence the external environment. The final page is a house with the title "Casa Estratégica"/ The slide talks about influencing the federation, political organs, media and the referee board. Can you comment on this document? 

ANSWER. Benfica has several documents and presentations made by its professionals regarding the “Benfica Houses”. Benfica Houses, if you are not aware, are organized groups of Benfica’s supporters, spread throughout the world. In none of the documents or presentations prepared by Benfica, including in regard of Benfica Houses, Benfica professionals have acted or suggested any actions, that were not perfectly legal. The same applies to the document you mention, naturally assuming this is a proprietary document of Benfica.

Question 2. Some people say Benfica has an unhealthy influence on Portugal's organs of power. What do you say to this? 

ANSWER. Some people” say everything they want regarding all the issues they want – specifically when they are “people” hiding behind curtains of smoke. There are many “some people” talking about the unhealthy influence of USA companies and even government in foreign affairs, as political decisions of other sovereign countries (and vice-versa, such as Ukraine). As a journalist, one must know the difference between allegations with concrete faking news purposes, and evidenced allegations of unhealthy influences on any country’s organs of power. Theories of conspiracy are the daily “food” of internet, social media and, unfortunately, even trusted and reputed newspapers.

The 1st question anyone should ask is “who” is the “some people”? Benfica’s adversaries? Benfica reputed supporters’ professional adversaries? “Some people” who wants to win championships without having the capabilities to do it, and thus uses all the kind of arguments to falsely claim against Benfica? And, also, those who use robbery, piracy, defamation campaigns, etc…?

Do not forget that to attack Benfica, the biggest and most competent football club in Portugal, somebody has paid hackers/pirates and robbers to obtain business secrecy. If something similar occurs in USA, the authorities, such as Department of Justice, FBI, and even political bodies, etc., would be persecuting and charging the hackers, the robbers and the defamation agents.

One very much interesting question that someone would ask, would also be: why is a North American Foundation so much interested in supporting the costs of life and defence of a hacker/criminal? Is it normal and something to be proud of, a legitimate and lawful institution to support criminal activity? What would the DoJ, the FBI and the Congress of USA say or think about a North American’s reputed private institution financing criminals or criminal activities around the world?

Question 3. Are you seeking criminal charges against Rui Pinto for being behind the hack on Benfica? 

ANSWER. Benfica is seeking for Justice against all the criminals that have hacked, robbed and insulted this centennial institution. Unfortunately, even for an institution as Benfica it is very difficult to oppose to people that is being financed (on the most suspect circumstances) by entities based abroad with the cooperation of international groups of hackers (and also of former politicians that are preparing their future political career, once they are out of the stage right now). That would be a very interesting investigation: who and why is, outside Europe, financing criminal activity in Europe regarding football and other institutions (e.g., economic, industry, politics, etc.).

Who knows, one day it will be discovered the “dangerous liaisons” between some private foundations, newspapers, politicians and journalists across USA and Europe, with the unfair attacks that Benfica has been suffering. But at that moment, also the objectives of such campaigns will be disclosed, such as the origin of the money used for such purposes. A Pulitzer prize will be won by the Journalist who discloses such information.

Question 4. Some people describe Benfica's influence as being … to an octopus, with tentacles that stretch out into many corners of the Portuguese state and soccer scene. How would you describe that description? 

ANSWER. Some judiciary investigations and Court decisions (and not “some people” as once again used in your question) have already demonstrated and decided where is the octopus, who is the octopus, and why some Benfica rival clubs are so much concerned in defeating Benfica outside the sports competitions… once they are not a match to compete in sports with Benfica, they try the most out of them to attack with false allegations.

How many FC Porto and Sporting Lisbon (or other clubs’) supporters and directives have important positions in soccer scene and hold very much important positions in Portuguese governmental, administrative and judicial bodies? How many “parliament members”, ministers, governors, mayors, public institution presidents, public companies’ directors, judges and prosecutors are supporters of other football clubs? Is there a statistic at your disposal, in order to compare and pose such a question?

When did concern over the “Portuguese football wars” started to raise such an interest to the general public in the USA, to foundations and persons and newspapers? Does it really sell newspapers (or likes) among your readers? When did the alleged “unhealthy influence” of Benfica in Portuguese society start to become under the spotlight for NYT readers?

Question 5. At a general assembly, a member of the club was caught on film criticising the way it was run and all the allegations it was facing. He appeared to be attacked by the president of the club, Luis Felipe Vieira. Do you want to comment on that episode? 

ANSWER. In all major Sports Clubs around the world, when we are speaking of centennial institutions that raise passion and dreams of millions of persons around the globe, it is usual general assemblies to be vivid, passionate, even dramatic. The pros and the cons typical of politics also occurs in these special Clubs. Only one that has no absolute knowledge of the passion that football awakes (typical of countries where football has almost no relevance), could find strange that in a General Assembly Meeting some verbal exaggeration occurs. It was not the first time and we guess that it will not be the last one. Not only in Benfica. Also, in other clubs, during General Assembly’s, the police forces are called to guarantee the lives and physical integrity of the Directors. That was not the case during the episode referred to on your question.

Question 6. A former club official Paulo Goncalves has been charged with bribing a ministry of justice official for information about cases that could implicate Benfica. Do you think he was acting for Benfica? Does Benfica still do business with Mr Goncalves?

ANSWER. Firstly, there is no reference anywhere to any ministry of justice official. For sure the information you got is not proper and correct and a misleading translation was given to you. At the judicial procedure it was an Auxiliar Bailiff that has been charged. Not a Ministry of Justice Official.

Secondly, Mr. Gonçalves was also not a Club Official, as per the Courts decision confirmed twice by two different Courts.

Thirdly, and strangely, your information regarding the existence and result of this criminal procedure is quite delayed on time – one would really find strange such a level of “not knowing” regarding what has happened. All the media (some international) has spread the news more than a year ago, what makes your question anachronic: it was evidenced in a 1st degree court of law, and confirmed at an appeal Court, that Benfica had neither interest nor influence regarding the acts of such worker of a small court in a small town of the Portuguese countryside. And, also, no interest, command or influence in Mr. Gonçalves private life (who are his friends, colleagues, contacts, etc.).

So many information lacking behind this question (specially coming from such an important and well-informed journalist) is not easily understandable.

Last update: Thursday, April 23, 2020

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