While looking up stuff about Brazilian football, I stumbled upon this Atlas Obscura piece on Carlos Kaiser, a con man who developed a 20-year footballing career despite never playing a match:
[…] Admittedly, Kaiser was not completely devoid of soccer skill. He initially showed promise in youth leagues, signing a professional contract with popular club Puebla in 1979 after impressing scouts, but was quickly let go. However, Kaiser had devised a plan to keep his career going. By riding the coattails of more promising colleagues, faking injuries at pertinent times, and taking advantage of the lack of technology, Carlos Kaiser was able to maintain a professional athlete’s lifestyle without ever having to prove his athleticism.
“Like every other soccer player, I came from a poor family, but I want to be big, have a lot of money so I could give better life conditions to my family,” Kaiser admitted in a 2011 interview with Globo, “I knew that the best way to make it happen was through soccer. I wanted to be a soccer player without having to actually play it.”
It’s one of those cases where, yeah, conning people is bad but also, how bad is the system where you can keep that con going for twenty years and not get stopped? I jokingly say that football isn’t a serious sport but maybe I’m right.