Hollywood manipulation in football: trajectory John Textor – 02/04/2024 – Sport

Hollywood manipulation in football: trajectory John Textor – 02/04/2024 – Sport


The film ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’, which tells the story of a man who is born with an aged appearance and becomes younger over the years, drew attention when it brought to the screen the rejuvenated actor Brad Pitt, which earned the film won the visual effects award at the Oscars in 2009.

The company responsible for the film’s special effects was Digital Domain, at the time run by John Textor, 58.

At the center of a controversy when he made several accusations of match-fixing in Brazilian football, the North American businessman who owns Botafogo’s SAF (Sociedade Anônima do Futebol) began his career as a programmer in the financial market and made his fortune – estimated at around US$250 million (R$1.3 billion) – investing in technology, cinema and artificial intelligence.

Named by Forbes as the “virtual reality guru of Hollywood”, Textor has made investments throughout his career in companies such as fuboTV, a streaming platform listed on the New York Stock Exchange that broadcasts American football, baseball and basketball matches, and Pulse Evolution Corporation, developer of hyper-realistic holograms of deceased celebrities, responsible for the virtual presentation of Michael Jackson at the Billboard Music Awards in 2014 and Tupac Shakur at the Coachella festival in 2012.

Textor says his mission is to create thinking digital humans based on artificial intelligence that help improve society. Now, he wants to use these technological tools to combat corruption in sport.

Since the middle of last year, after the Botafogo team failed to maintain their surprising campaign and saw Palmeiras overtake them in the final stretch of the Brazilian Championship, the businessman has made several accusations, according to which his team had been harmed due to supposed manipulations. of results and refereeing errors.

The complaints began after an emblematic game in which Botafogo lost 4-3 to Palmeiras at home, when Textor harshly criticized the refereeing because of the expulsion of defender Adryelson.

“I’m not even sure if it was a foul. But it’s not a red card, it changed the game. This is corruption, this is theft. Please fine me, Ednaldo [Rodrigues, presidente da CBF], but you need to resign tomorrow morning. That’s what needs to happen. This championship has become a joke”, shouted Textor on the Nilton Santos lawn.

The businessman ended up being sued by the president of the CBF (Brazilian Football Confederation) for slander and suspended for 30 days by the STJD (Superior Court of Justice).

Outraged, Textor then commissioned a study from the French company Good Game!, specialized in game analysis and arbitration. The survey commissioned by the businessman showed that, at that point in the championship, which was then in the 33rd round, due to errors by the judges, Botafogo should have 70 points, instead of 60, while Palmeiras should have 49, not 59.

The businessman sent a letter to the STJD so that the alleged errors could be investigated, but the request ended up being filed by the president of the court, José Perdiz, who pointed out subjectivity and a lack of consistency in the accusations.

After confirming the victory of the Brazilian Championship, the president of Palmeiras, Leila Pereira, classified Textor as “unbalanced” due to accusations of benefit to the alviverde. “It’s even ridiculous. He discredits, devalues ​​this important product that is football. He should have more serenity. It’s part of John Textor’s imbalance”, declared the director.

With the end of the national tournament and the beginning of the state tournaments, the North American’s anger seemed to have dissipated, until, in early March, it resurfaced. Without providing evidence, he said he had a recording of a football referee complaining about not having received a bribe for manipulations committed.

A few days later, he stated that the recording was sent by an employee linked to the CBF, in which the referee from a “minor division” and “with a Rio accent” regretted having lost money by not being able to direct the match as desired. When contacted, the CBF did not respond until the article was published.

This Monday (1st), the saga of the North American in search of supposed greater transparency in sport gained a new chapter. The director increased his tone and stated, once again without providing evidence, that five São Paulo players acted to manipulate the 5-0 defeat by Palmeiras in the 29th round of the 2023 Brazilian Championship.

“The game between Palmeiras and São Paulo in October 2023 was, according to artificial intelligence experts, manipulated by at least five São Paulo players,” said the businessman in a statement. “Seven players showed abnormal deviations in crucial goal situations, but only five exceeded limits that make the manipulation clear and convincing.”

Textor also said that the same phenomenon would have occurred in a confrontation between Palmeiras and Fortaleza for the 35th round of the Brazilian Championship in 2022, which ended with a 4-0 victory for the Alviverde team. According to him, four Fortaleza players had acted to manipulate the match.

The clubs targeted by Textor rejected the accusations and criticized the owner of SAF do Botafogo.

“The statements, made without the presentation of any evidence, tarnish the reputation of our century-old institution and cause serious damage to the club’s image. Fortaleza will take all appropriate legal measures,” the club wrote.

In the same vein, São Paulo “vehemently repudiated the serious and unfounded accusations” and activated its legal department, which will study and take the appropriate measures in the legal sphere.

“Unfortunately, the statements expressed by him affect several institutions, and also São Paulo Futebol Clube, a 94-year-old institution that has always defended ethical and moral values. This cannot remain like this”, stated Julio Casares, president of São Paulo, in video published on social media this Tuesday.

Casares also said that the club is taking practical and objective measures “together with the STJD, the civil sphere and the criminal sphere.”

“If he claims that irregularities occurred, let him prove it, show documents. But don’t speak openly about affecting millions of fans, athletes, institutions, men who built important brands, as is the case with São Paulo Futebol Clube”, stated the club president . “São Paulo wants clarification. He will have the opportunity to clarify what he said. If they are subjective issues, let him recant. If they are objective issues, let him demonstrate the veracity of what he said”, added the leader.

Palmeiras filed a measure against Textor at the STJD. In the request, sent to the president of the court for analysis, Palmeiras requests that the businessman refrain from making any mention of Palmeiras and requests a fine of R$100,000, in addition to suspension for 90 days.

Wanted by SheetBotafogo informed via press office that Textor’s position will be limited to publications already made by the director himself.


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