November 2, 2018 / 5:15 PM / a year ago

The soccer documents and their source

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Ligue 1 - Paris St. Germain v Angers - Parc des Princes, Paris, France - August 25, 2018 General view of the stadium during the match REUTERS/Christian Hartmann/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - The information underlying the Reuters report on soccer comes from a trove of contracts, presentations, emails and other material relating to leading soccer clubs that was obtained by the German news magazine Der Spiegel. The magazine shared access to the documents with Reuters and more than a dozen other media outlets in cooperation with European Investigative Collaborations (EIC).

The material came from a source Der Spiegel identifies only as John. In response to questions relayed via Der Spiegel, John said he is Portuguese. He declined to provide further personal details, including where he currently is based or his occupation.

John said that since late 2015 he has received terabytes of information “from different sources” and that he does not know their precise provenance. He added that he had never engaged in hacking or theft, and that neither he nor his associates had any connection to any state agencies. “We are fully independent from any state or private organizations,” he said.

A person familiar with UEFA’s processes confirmed the contents of some of the documents when they were described to that person by Reuters.

John was the source for the first so-called “Football Leaks” EIC reporting project, which began publishing in December 2016. At the time, Der Spiegel said that John saw himself as standing up for ordinary soccer fans, so that they understood hidden aspects of the sport their money fuels.

Among other things, that project disclosed how some of the richest and most prominent figures in the sport avoided tax by channeling some earnings offshore, prompting the European Parliament to question representatives of European football bodies about such maneuvers.

The latest documents provide insight into the activities of wealthy Gulf individuals and organizations, who have become increasingly influential in soccer and other businesses in Europe and beyond; the nature of the huge sums flowing through some leading clubs; and the uneven way soccer authorities have dealt with application of the sport’s rules.

reporting by Cassell Bryan-Low and Tom Bergin; editing by Richard Woods and Janet McBride

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