Police in Portugal have raided Benfica football club as part of a corruption investigation linked to player transfers, the two-time European champions and investigators confirmed on Monday.
The Portuguese general prosecutor’s office revealed that it had carried out nearly 30 searches, including at the premises of Benfica and fellow top division club Santa Clara, in a probe into a range of financial crimes including money laundering.
Benfica confirmed the raids in a statement in which they underlined their “total willingness to collaborate with the authorities”.
Prosecutors said they were investigating “a range of cases, all linked to professional football”, adding that they were related to sporting and financial partnerships, the acquisition by clubs of players’ sporting rights and “loans agreed with a Singapore national”.
Broadcaster TVI reported that Benfica president Luis Filipe Vieira is the main target of the authorities, who carried out the searches in order to move forward ongoing investigations.
TVI also report that prosecutors are focussing on the transfer of three Libyan players who signed for Santa Clara.
Last month real estate businessman Vieira was re-elected president of the 37-time Portuguese champions, who also won the European Cup twice in the 1960s, extending a reign that began in 2003.
Vieira, 71, is to be tried in a corruption trial alongside 16 other people, including three judges, and was also indicted in a tax fraud probe targeting Benfica, who have also been implicated in match fixing.