⚽ Go team go? Sporting clubs and large companies can become so big and popular that they unduly influence the court system 

What happens to the legal system when everyone feels like they’re part of the same team? Is fairness possible? An obsession with a Portuguese soccer club provides an example of the complexity that comes with power.

  • Benfica is the top soccer club in Portugal: It has a fan base that lives and dies with every result and regularly invites judges, politicians and other public figures to its matches. 

  • A man named Rui Pinto hacked into Benfica’s records: He released them on the Football Leaks website. The records provided evidence into the sometimes unseamly business practices of major European football, including how Benfica provided benefits to powerful Portuguese leaders.  

  • Benfica supporters were not pleased: And those supporters included the judge assigned to the case. He “liked” a tweet suggesting Pinto was a pirate and had posted several praiseworthy tweets of his own about Benfica. 

Pinto’s lawyer says this is state capture

State capture happens when an entity grows so large that the state, including the legal system, can no longer hold it in check. U.S. politicians have been levying the same concerns about large tech companies.

The Verdict

The Portuguese judge asked to be recused from the case after local media outlets revealed his social media. But a fair trial may elude Portugal: At least 44 judges had been invited to Benfica matches as special guests.