Brazil club Palmeiras take US football magnate Textor to court

John Textor is also the owner of French club Lyon (SEBASTIEN BOZON)
John Textor is also the owner of French club Lyon (SEBASTIEN BOZON)

Brazilian league champions Palmeiras asked a court Tuesday to order US football magnate John Textor to stop accusing the club of using corruption to defeat his Botafogo in the 2023 title race.

The Sao Paulo club asked Brazil's Superior Court of Sport for Football to order Textor "to abstain from any mention or reference to Palmeiras, under penalty of suspension and fine," the court said in a statement.

The move came after Textor said Monday he had "heavy, heavy, heavy evidence, 100-percent proven, that Palmeiras has been the beneficiary of match-fixing," in an interview with an online Botafogo fan channel.

Textor, a 58-year-old media and tech mogul, acquired a 90-percent stake in Rio de Janeiro-based Botafogo in 2022. His Eagle Football Holdings also has large stakes in English club Crystal Palace, France's Lyon and Belgium's Molenbeek.

He has repeatedly alleged corruption was behind Palmeiras's second straight title win last year, after Botafogo gave up what had looked like an insurmountable 13-point lead in the table.

He has not presented proof for his claims of match-fixing.

In November, Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) president Ednaldo Rodrigues sued Textor for slander over an obscenity-laced TV interview in which the magnate blamed "corruption" and "theft" for a decisive 4-3 Botafogo loss to Palmeiras late in the season.

"I'm sorry (this) is going to create a lot of noise, but my evidence is 100 percent. It's going to the prosecutors, so we can just play football. I'm here to defend the honor of our club," Textor said Monday.

He added on his website that artificial intelligence and "leading experts" had found "abnormal deviations" in player performance in at least two Palmeiras victories -- one against Fortaleza in 2022, another against Sao Paulo in 2023.

Both clubs rejected the claims, called on Textor to provide evidence and said they were considering legal action.