As Man City are banned from the Champions League for two years, it’s easy to forget one man’s tireless work in exposing their Financial Fair Play breaking.
Rui Pinto – a Portuguese hacker who worked out of his modest home – sent shockwaves through the world after gaining access to club emails and handing them to the media.
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.
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 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.
He said: “I was aware that anything could happen.
“I knew that Portuguese authorities prosecute whistleblowers, so I had to be ready for that.
Football Leaks have been the best thing to happen to football. Feel so bad the whistleblower rui pinto is wasting away in prison for releasing all these documents and emails from these clubs which are now being used to bring them to “justice”.
— LFC Views (@Mobyhaque1) February 14, 2020
— Rafael Buschmann (@Rafanelli) February 14, 2020
“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.
People need to read up on Rui Pinto the whistleblower and hacker who is jail in Portugal. To find out the reason why Man City was banned from UEFA for 2 years.
— Jason ”JJ” Jose (@Jason_Jose) February 14, 2020
“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 is still awaiting a date for his trial.