KUALA LUMPUR: The latest twist in exposing one of the biggest scams in national team football has seen nine players who played for East Timor having their passports annulled by the state’s Justice Ministry.

East Timor hit the headlines when they scored the first goal in the 2018 World Cup qualifying competition. Since then, however, it has been revealed that they benefited for from wholesale trickery involving Brazilian-born imported players.

The nine are:

Diogo Santos Rangel,

Fellipe Bertoldo Do Santos,

Jairo Pinheiro Palmeira Neto,

Junior Aparecido Guimaro De Souza,

Patrick Fabiano Alves Nobrega Luz,

Paulo Cesar Da Silva Martins,

Paulo Helber Rosa Ribeiro,

Ramon De Lima Saro, and

Rodrigo Sousa Silva.

Last month the Asian Football Confederation Timor-Leste expelled East Timor from the 2023 Asian Cup and named Amandio de Araujo Sarmento, general secretary of the Federacao Futebol Timor-Leste as responsible for the use of falsified documents.

Another official, Gelasio De Silva Carvalho, was found guilty of bringing the game into disrepute.

The scam was uncovered last June when the AFC and world federation FIFA opened an investigation into player eligibility in the 2019 Asian Cup qualifiers. An inquiry

identified 12 Brazilian-born players as having been registered in the AFC administration system with falsified Timorese birth or baptismal certificates.

Subsequent inquiries found as fraudlent claims of eligibility through one or both parents having been born in East Timor.

The findings were also referred the Justice Ministry.

Nine of the players appeared in 29 AFC matches and seven FIFA matches which hd to have been World Cup qualifying matches.

The AFC banned the FFTL the 2023 AFC Asian Cup 2023 and fined it $20,000. Amandio was banned from football for three years and fined $9,000. Gelasio was fined $3,000 for attempting to influence a witness.

In March 2015 Indonesia-born Chiquito, a 28-year-old striker for East Timor, struck the opening goal of the 2018 World Cup after seven minutes of a 4-1 win over Mongolia. This was East Timor’s first ever World Cup win. They had lost all four of their previous qualifying matches.

A FIFA report at the time described the game as “a perfect example of World Cup football away from the bright lights of the world’s most famous stages . . . Timor-Leste have a passion for football that few can surpass.”

Unfortunately some of that passion was misdirected.