Jump directly to the content

MANCHESTER CITY'S two-year ban from the Champions League for breaking Financial Fair Play rules was uncovered by the most unlikely of detectives.

Rui Pinto is a Portuguese hacker who worked out of his modest home under a pseudonym.

 Rui Pinto (centre) is escorted by guards as he is extradited from Hungary to Portugal
4
Rui Pinto (centre) is escorted by guards as he is extradited from Hungary to PortugalCredit: AP

His revelations sent shockwaves through the world after he gained access to club emails and handing them to the media.

Pinto spend three years sending confidential information in 70million documents from top club officials to German magazine Der Spiegel.

He was living in Hungary at the time but he was eventually tracked down.

The Football Leaks scandal has seen the 31-year-old sent to prison, where he remains to this day awaiting a court case for his alleged crimes.

On Thursday, he was denied an appeal and will face trial for 90 different counts after exposing top sides and players from around Europe.

Pinto, who is accused of hacking sabotage and fraud, has been in jail since last March, while awaiting a verdict by the Lisbon Court of Appeal.

But it was his action that has forced Uefa into the unprecedented ban for the Etihad side, while also fining them nearly £25m.


Latest stories on Man City’s Champions League ban


As news of City's punishment stunned football, #freepinto started to trend on social networking site Twitter.

Fans came together in a show of solidarity, as he sat in his tiny cell in a prison in the middle of Lisbon.

It comes nearly a year on from Pinto being extradited from Hungary, where he was living in downtown Budapest, to Portugal.

 Football Leaks whistleblower Rui Pinto arrives at the Metropolitan Court in Budapest, Hungary, for his trial in March
4
Football Leaks whistleblower Rui Pinto arrives at the Metropolitan Court in Budapest, Hungary, for his trial in MarchCredit: Getty
 Dortmund fans hold up a banner in support of Pinto after the Football Leaks scandal
4
Dortmund fans hold up a banner in support of Pinto after the Football Leaks scandalCredit: Getty

Football Leaks was created back in 2015, and has done more good than harm, while exposing everything from tax fraud to clubs breaching FFP.

Pinto - who worked under the name John - is claimed to have got hold of 70 million documents and 3.4 terabytes of information, including personal emails.

He sat down with Der Spiegel, where he leaked a lot of this info, in December last year, in a tell-all interview about his time inside.

 Pinto is currently in a Lisbon jail and awaiting trial for his alleged crimes
4
Pinto is currently in a Lisbon jail and awaiting trial for his alleged crimesCredit: Getty

He said: "I was aware that anything could happen.

"I knew that Portuguese authorities prosecute whistleblowers, so I had to be ready for that.

"The Portuguese authorities are afraid of what I know and that's why it is important that I not lose my mind.

"In the beginning, I wrote notes related to the case in my notebook, but then it was taken from me.

"My lawyer was present when they searched my cell and said it was illegal to take my notes from me.

"It wasn't the prison guards who did it, but the Portuguese prosecutors. They do anything they want.

"It was a month before they returned the notebook to me."

Pinto insists his aim is to clean up football.

His first leak led to Dutch side FC Twente receiving a three-year ban from European football by the Dutch FA.

The leak exposed Twente's failure to reveal full details of a third-party ownership contract with Malta-based Doyen Sports Investments.

Football Leaks also revealed details of transfers involving Radamel Falco, Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez.

Pinto said: "I don’t consider myself as a hacker, but a citizen who acted for public interest.

"My sole intention was to reveal illicit practices that affect the world of football."

Pinto is still awaiting a date for his trial.

Paul Ince and Robbie Savage discuss Man City's future after UEFA ban and £25m fine
Topics