Latin America & Caribbean

Anger as Brazilian team signs player convicted for murder

Flemngo goalkeeper Bruno Fernandes being escorted by police in 2010 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Flemengo goalkeeper Bruno Fernandes being escorted by police in 2010

A Brazilian football club is facing a backlash after signing a goalkeeper found guilty of ordering the murder of his ex-lover in 2010.

Bruno Fernandes, known as Bruno, was signed by Boa Esporte on Monday, just weeks after he was freed from prison.

There has been a furious reaction from sponsors and people on social media.

He was sentenced in 2013 to 22 years in jail for his role in the kidnapping and killing of Eliza Samudio but has been released pending an appeal.

His lawyers argued successfully that he could not be held in custody any longer as the courts had failed to hear his appeal within the required time.

Gruesome case

The disappearance of Ms Samudio and the gruesome story surrounding it was widely covered by the Brazilian press at the time.

Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption Eliza Samudio was abducted from a hotel in Rio de Janeiro and strangled

In 2010, Bruno Fernandes was a successful goalkeeper with first-division club Flamengo and had been tipped to play for Brazil in the 2014 Fifa World Cup finals.

Brazilians were shocked at Fernandes' arrest and subsequent confession that he knew that Ms Samudio had been strangled and her remains fed to his dogs.

Prosecutors said that Fernandes had had her killed to avoid paying pay child maintenance for their baby son.

Fernandes always denied ordering her killing but was found guilty not only on that charge but also of hiding her body and kidnapping their son.

The fact that he is now about to resume his sporting career with Boa Esporte after only serving part of his sentence has caused outrage among many Brazilians.

Three backers have already withdrawn their financial support for the second-division team based in Varginha, in south-eastern Brazil.

Many Brazilians said they had found it distasteful of the club to post pictures on their Twitter account of the smiling goalkeeper and club officials celebrating the new signing.

Image copyright Twiter
Image caption Boa Esporte tweeted news of their new signing

Twitter user Leandro Leite said that Bruno [Fernandes] may be the new "reinforcement" of Boa Esporte, but that if it was confirmed he hoped that the club would "disappear forever from the world of football....or better still entirely from the map".

Image copyright Twitter

Many others wrote that they felt it was "shameful" that a man who had had his ex-girlfriend fed to his dogs would soon appear on TV screens playing football.

Others congratulated those sponsors who have dropped the club.

Boa Esporte's website was hacked by activists who posted a text drawing attention to Brazil's high number of femicides.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption The club's website was hacked

But there were also those who said the club was not to blame and that Fernandes had the right to rebuild his life after his release from prison.

Boa Esporte's President Rona Moraes da Costa said in a statement published on Facebook [in Portuguese] that the club was aiding in the player's rehabilitation and that it was not responsible for his release from prison.

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