Bruno Fernandes – known simply as Bruno in Brazil – was a goalkeeper with a growing reputation. He had captained Flamengo to the top of the league, was tipped to make the Brazil national squad for the 2014 World Cup, and there was speculation linking him to a big money move to Europe with AC Milan.
However, in 2013 his career appeared to be over after he was sentenced to 22 years in jail for his part in a gruesome plot.
The scandal dated back to 2009 at a time when Bruno, together with a number of other players, was a regular attender at 24-hour sex parties, although he was married with two daughters.
At one of these parties, Bruno met Eliza Samudio, a former model who, at one time, had been romantically linked with Cristiano Ronaldo.
Whilst she was pregnant, Bruno arranged for two friends to kidnap here and give her an illegal drug which would induce her to have a miscarriage. It didn’t work and, in due course, Eliza gave birth to a baby called whom she called Brunhinho – “Little Bruno”
They began a relationship but, after three months she became pregnant, which was not planned. Bruno wanted her to have an abortion, but Eliza refused.
A paternity test revealed the baby to be Bruno’s but, four months after the birth, Eliza and the child disappeared one day.
The baby was later found abandoned in a poor district in south-east Brazil and suspicion fell on Bruno. He denied any involvement, claiming Eliza had moved abroad, but the police were still not satisfied and, when they searched his car, they found traces of blood, a pair of women’s sunglasses and a pair of sandals,
Meanwhile, Bruno was sentenced for more than four years in jail for his part in the original kidnapping, and suspended by his club.
Eventually though, a teenage cousin of his confessed to the police what had happened to Eliza. A gang – consisting of the cousin, Bruno’s wife, an ex-lover, and a former police officer – had kidnaped the woman and taken her to a remote farmhouse where they tied her to a chair for six days torturing and beating her, whilst her baby was forced to watch.
Eventually she was strangled, cut into bits, and the pieces fed to a pack of rottweilers.
Confronted with the confession, Bruno finally admitted that he had commissioned the gang to get rid of Eliza, paying them the equivalent of £8,000, because he did not want to pay child support.
The gang were sentenced to jail terms of between five and twenty years, whilst Bruno received a 22-year jail term for his role in the affair.
The matter did not end there though. After six years he was released whilst his appeal was heard and immediately began planning a return to football. He had signed a professional contract to play for Boa Esporte, with his supports claiming that he had served his time.
However, faced with a major public backlash, the Brazilian Supreme Court had him re-arrested and he continued his sentence. However, in August 2019 he was released again into a semi-open prison environment.
Andy is an exiled English football fan living in Cyprus. He loves all sports but football is his abiding passion, and he still has dreams every now and then about scoring the winning goal in a Wembley Cup Final, even though his playing days are long gone. He follows most major leagues, across Europe at least, and has a favoured team in each. When he’s not watching, listening, reading or downloading podcasts about football, he spend his time worrying about his beloved Arsenal.