A warning judgment
April 11, 2001—ON April 4, a Paris court handed down its ruling on the case of three soccer players found in possession of false passports, issuing harsh sanctions that could be considered a warning.
Colombian Fayrd Mondragón, goalkeeper for the F.C. Metz club, has been banned from French territory for two years and a fine of 45,730 euros (almost the same amount in dollars) for false entry and using false documents,” namely a Greek passport.
At the same time, Chilean Pablo Contreras, former A.S. Monaco player in possession of an Italian passport, and Argentine Emiliano Manuel Romay, former Niza player, have been also been banned from French territory and fined 30,490 and 22,870 euros, respectively.
Only the first of the three players was still in the same French club and therefore was present at the hearing, whereas the others had returned to their original clubs in Argentina.
According to the French daily Libération “the court did not accept the plea of ignorance put forward by the defense, which stated that the accused had never used those passports for international trips.
Mondragón has appealed the decision and will therefore continue to play for the club until the court rules on the case again.
The court’s severity will encourage investigation into many other cases of players who appear to be European Union passport holders, not just in France but also in Spain, Italy, Portugal and Britain.
French legal authorities have announced that they will continue their investigations into the false passports, to try to uncover the network of suppliers.
Soccer officials in France, the country that holds both world and European championship titles, may interpret this ruling as a call, at the very least, for stricter controls, especially as it is well known that the French National League, the main governing body for professional soccer in the country, had already pronounced Faryd Mondragón not guilty.