By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – In a controversial move that has already resulted in numerous negative repercussions, this weekend, Minas Gerais football (soccer) club, Boa Esporte, announced that it had signed former Flamengo goalkeeper and convicted murderer, Bruno Fernandes.
The 32-year-old Fernandes was released last month after serving almost seven years of an original 22-year sentence. In a case that made headlines around the world, in 2013, the up-and-coming star goalkeeper was found guilty of ordering the 2010 killing of his girlfriend, Elizia Samudio. Allegedly, Samudio had been demanding child support payments from the player.
Shocking testimony from Fernandes and his cousin revealed that Samudio was strangled and then cut up and fed to Fernandes’ Rottweilers. While admitting he had knowledge of Samudio’s demise, Fernandes denied that he ordered her murder. Samudio’s body was never found.
The criticism levied towards Boa Esporte following the announcement on Friday (March 10th) was swift. On Saturday (March 11th), Nutrends Nutrition, one of the club’s main sponsors, announced it was ending its relationship with the team. Several petitions against the move have also started on the team’s social media outlets, with many fans commenting they are no longer supporting the club.
On Sunday (March 12th), Boa Esporte team President Rone Moraes da Costa, released a statement pushing back against the barrage of criticism. According to Da Costa, Boa Esporte “was not responsible for the release and freedom of the athlete, Bruno, but the club and the team, as a company, represented by human beings, endowed with justice and legality, can say that they tried to do justice by helping a human being.”
He added, “[C]ivilized criteria have long indicated that the released criminal must have the attention of the state, enough attention to be able to restore his life in society, and no one can deny that there is no life in a society more worthy than a life at work.”
According to club officials, on Monday, March 13th, Fernandes will undergo a series of physical exams and, if all goes well, the goalkeeper will begin training with the team and could see playing time in 45 to 60 days.