KUALA LUMPUR: East Timor has revoked the passports of nine Brazil-born players on its national team following revelations they had submitted falsified documents, Asia’s football governing body said Wednesday.
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said it received information from East Timor’s justice ministry through Dili’s embassy in Kuala Lumpur that the passports have been declared “null and void”.
The nine players will no longer be able to register in any competition under East Timor, the AFC said.
A further enquiry on the status of the passports of “a number of other players” was also carried out, it said without saying what action had been taken following the probe.
AFC’s disciplinary committee in January banned East Timor from the 2023 AFC Asian Cup after uncovering a scandal in which the country’s football association submitted forged documents for 12 Brazil-born players.
The forgery involved birth or baptismal certificates showing that one or both of the players’ parents were born in East Timor, which made them eligible to play for the country.
Nine of the 12 players had participated in 29 matches under the AFC and seven tournaments under the world football governing body FIFA between 2012 and 2016, according to the AFC.
The influx of naturalised Brazilian players had seen the tiny nation, with a population of around 1.2 million people, shoot up the rankings from the football wilderness.
Ranked 205 globally in 2011, the football minnows jumped to their best ever ranking of 170 in 2015.
Palestine in October 2015 lodged a complaint with FIFA after East Timor fielded seven Brazil-born players in a 1-1 draw, but no action was taken.
East Timor stopped fielding Brazil-born players following the complaint and suffered heavy losses in subsequent matches to UAE (8-0), Saudi Arabia (10-0) and Palestine (7-0).
They started fielding Brazil-born players again in the Asian Cup qualifiers in June 2016 against Malaysia.
Days later, the AFC in conjunction with FIFA opened an investigation into the eligibility of certain footballers.
East Timor has a current world ranking of 194.