The Asian Football Confederation has removed the tiny nation of East Timor after a document-forging scheme was exposed among members of its national men’s soccer team. According to a report on the National Public Radio website, npr.org, an investigation into the team revealed close to a dozen Brazilian-born athletes have been playing for East Timor with fake birth or baptism certificates. The players involved in the scheme played in 29 games for the country, including World Cup qualifying matches.
East Timor has been removed from 2023 Asian Cup, been ordered to forfeit all victories during the period in question, and was fined $20,000. The investigation began in June and found that the players involved held forged documents claiming they had at least one parent born in the island nation of 1.2 million people. While the Football Federation Timor-Leste carried out the investigation which uncovered the scheme, it did not state whether the players were involved or knew of the scheme. Patrick Fabiano, a striker for the team and one of the players found to have fake documents, told the New York Times in 2015 that upon receiving an invitation to play for the team, he was told by team officials, “we give the passport, you play for us.”
The East Timor National Men’s Soccer team has struggled since its founding, managing only five wins in just under 14 years.