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23 January 2017

Brazil youth tournament surrounded in controversy after claims of player involved in identity theft

Brazil ‘s biggest youth tournament was plunged into controversy over the weekend when a player was accused of stealing the identity of a jailed teenager.

Brendon Matheus, a centre-back for Paulista in the ‘Copinha’ under-20 tournament, is to be investigated by local police after a rival club, Batatais, reported him to the Sao Paulo football federation.

They claim the defender has falsified documents to assume a different name and date of birth because, having been born in 1994, he is actually ineligible for the competition.

That would be controversial enough, but ESPN Brasil have since reported that the identity allegedly stolen – Brendon Matheus Araujo Lima dos Santos – is that of another young footballer, born in 1997, who is currently in prison in Rio de Janeiro. The ‘real’ Brendon Matheus is accused of armed robbery and drug trafficking.

Paulista Futebol Clube crest

Paulista Futebol Clube have claimed they are surprised by the revelation

According to the documents presented by Batatais, who were knocked out of the Copinha by Paulista in the semi-finals, the youngster calling himself Brendon is actually Heltton Matheus Cardoso Rodrigues, who had already played for Sao Goncalo in the third division of the Rio state league.

Pepe Verdugo, the president of Paulista, said that the player denies any wrongdoing. “We spoke to him about this story and he told us it was all lies,” Verdugo said. “He didn’t show any nervousness and said there was nothing to worry about.”

Paulista are due to take on Corinthians in the final of the tournament, but could face a five-year suspension if Brendon – or Heltton – is found guilty of having lied about his age.

UPDATE: Paulista have released a club statement to confirm they were surprised by the allegations but will cooperate with the authorities and that if the player’s identity is proven false then they, too, were victims too and that they have always acted in the strictest good faith.

Source: mirror uk spor

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