RIO DE JANEIRO — After serving seven years in prison for killing his ex-girlfriend and feeding her to dogs, Brazilian goalkeeper Bruno Fernandes de Souza is controversially back in the game, signed by Boa Esporte for two years.
Fans and sponsors of the Brazilian second-division side quickly denounced the move but so far Boa Esporte isn’t backing down.
In a lengthy post on its Facebook page, Boa Esporte’s president, Rone Moraes da Costa, says the team isn’t committing any crimes by signing the 32-year-old who formerly played for one of Brazil’s most famous clubs — Flamengo — and was tipped to line up for the national team at the 2014 World Cup on home soil.
He could be back in action within a month and a half.
“Esporte Clube was not responsible for the release and freedom of the athlete Bruno,” da Costa said, adding that the club was “giving work to those who intend to recover.”
Bruno “deserves a new opportunity as a professional,” the team said in a separate post. “The club has no relation with Bruno’s personal actions, nor with his past, having hired only the professional.”
Crime and conviction
In 2010, he was arrested and three years later found guilty of homicide, kidnapping and hiding the body of his ex-girlfriend Eliza Samudio. He was sentenced to 22 years in jail.
Bruno, his lover and his ex-wife were among nine people charged with torturing and murdering Samudio, who had been trying to prove he had fathered her son.
The player’s ex-wife, who was also on trial, was acquitted of kidnapping the child.
Samudio’s body was never found, but the goalkeeper’s cousin told the court Samudio had been demanding child support payments and that he had helped to dismember her body and fed her to several dogs.
In a shocking turn of events, Bruno was released last month on a technicality while his lawyers prepare an appeal.
Backlash and public outcry
In the last few days, Boa Esporte lost several of its sponsors, including their main sponsor Gois & Silva Group, as well as their athletic equipment provider, Kanxa.
Social media users have also voiced their opinions. Twitter user Maycon dos Santos said: “Goalkeeper Bruno, murderer! Boa Esporte, shame is not enough!! In Brazil the inversion of values is absurd!”
User Celio Ramirez added: “It’s amazing that the mastermind of a murder be hired in football as soon as he gets out of jail and another fights a lifetime for a job.”
A change.org petition — organized by victims group The Movement We Are All Victims United — has protested against Bruno’s hiring by Boa Esporte, conveying the message to “all Presidents and Directors of Football Clubs our total disgust that a symbol of DEATH Wear a sports shirt.”
The petition had reached close to 35,000 signatures.
Some, however, were supportive of Boa Esporte’s decision. Twitter user Raphael Odilon said: “The goalkeeper #Bruno committed a crime and paid for it.”
Bruno has yet to comment on his return to football, but Boa Esporte say they will make him available for a media conference at some point.