Former Chelsea striker Diego Costa named in Brazilian media as the footballer at the centre of an alleged betting scandal being probed by police – who seized £1.77million in cash as part of the investigation this year
- Diego Costa has been named in the Brazilian media as the footballer at the centre of an alleged betting scandal in Brazil
- Brazil police said a footballer – not named officially – is a suspect under investigation
- Costa’s club – Atletico Mineiro – said it was unaware of the allegations but put out a statement offering to support the player ‘if it is necessary’
- Police have already seized £1.77million in cash as part of the investigation
Former Chelsea striker Diego Costa has been named in the Brazilian media as the footballer at the centre of an alleged betting scandal being probed by police.
The 32-year-old striker, currently playing for Brazilian side Atletico Mineiro, has been identified by national press in his homeland as one of the people being investigated by detectives in the state of Sergipe where he was born.
Police have yet to confirm the identities of those they believe are involved in the alleged wrongdoing. But they have said a footballer they did not name officially is one of the suspects under investigation.
Diego Costa has been named as the footballer at the centre of an alleged betting scandal
Costa was identified in Brazilian media as the one of the people being investigated by police in the state of Sergipe (pictured in Sergipe in June 2017 ) where he was born
Detectives are probing alleged money laundering and foreign exchange fraud involving online betting site Esportenet
Detectives went public with their operation on Thursday, saying they were probing the practice of alleged crimes including money laundering and foreign exchange fraud involving online betting site Esportenet.
Sergipe State Police said in a statement: ‘On Wednesday morning Sergipe State Police launched the second phase of an operation codenamed “Distraction” with the aim of obtaining evidence for an investigation into the alleged practices of exploitation of gambling, money laundering, foreign currency exchange and criminal association involving the ESPORTENET betting site, its owners, financial operators and financier.
‘In the first phase of the operation, which began on March 3 this year, documents and electronic equipment were seized that allowed the investigation to be deepened and the amount of R$13,129,217.00 – Brazilian real – (£1.77million) in cash was seized.
‘Based on the evidence collected, it was possible to identify other betting platforms used by the group and individual companies and legal entities for alleged money laundering and foreign exchange fraud
‘The participation of money changers that help the criminal organisation to allegedly commit foreign exchange fraud was verified, as well as the participation of a football player.
‘At this stage, the investigation is focused on the foreign exchange fraud, with specific focus on the money changers and the betting site’s financier.
Costa won three trophies during his time at Chelsea, including two Premier League titles
He returned to Atletico Madrid in 2018 after a rift with then-Chelsea manager Antonio Conte
‘Seven search and seizure warrants are being executed, two in Itabaiana in Sergipe, one in Lagarto in Sergipe, two in Simao Dias in Segipe, one in Salvador in the state of Bahia and one in Sao Paulo.
‘The warrants were issued by a judge sitting at Itabaaina’s Sixth Federal Court.
‘Warrants for the seizure of property belonging to those involved in the criminal scheme are also being executed.’
There has been no comment from the footballer on any of his social media sites.
Atletico Mineiro said they would support Costa if he asked for help in a statement.
The statement, titled “Diego Costa Official Statement” and posted on the official club website, said: ‘The reports do not concern the club.
Costa’s current club – Atletico Mineiro – said they would support him if he asked for help in a statement
‘The allegations that have been put in the public domain weren’t previously known to the public or the club because they formed part of an investigation and they relate to a period which was prior to the athlete’s arrival here.
‘However Atletico Mineiro is trying to find out more and if the athlete requires it, we will offer him all the support that might be necessary.’
Diego Costa, full name Diego da Silva Costa, transferred to Chelsea from Atletico Madrid in 2014 in a deal worth £32m.
He won three trophies including two Premier League titles during his time at Stamford Bridge before returning to Atletico Madrid in 2018 following a rift with then-Chelsea manager Antonio Conte.
Costa, a dual citizen of Brazil and Spain, joined Atletico Mineiro on August 14 this year, signing a deal until December 2022. The Belo Horizonte-based side competes in Brazil’s top-tier Serie A league.
Costa, known for his fiery temper on the pitch, played twice for Brazil and has scored 10 goals in his 24 appearances for Spain.