It’s a tale as old as commercial sports, right? Famous athlete dodges punishment and keeps making money. But this story is different—it’s not about steroids or deflated equipment. It’s beyond bizarre and disturbing, and it’s the type of true crime story that leaves you questioning humanity and its misconceptions of justice.
Bruno Fernandes de Souza, known by his fans as just “Bruno,” is a Brazilian soccer player who seems to moonlight as a mafia boss. Years ago, he confessed to his role in the 2010 murder of his ex-girlfriend Eliza Samudio. The 25-year-old woman had just become pregnant with his child, and just after she sued for financial support, she disappeared. Bruno had conspired with his friends to organize and execute her kidnapping. Samudio was held in a shed, where she was tortured and ultimately strangled to death. Bruno then ordered her assailants to dispose of her body by feeding it to his dogs.
While Bruno previously played much to the delight and entertainment of soccer fans, his actions were expectedly unforgivable. Brazil’s former president Dilma Rousseff called it “a barbaric and perverse crime” and said that “the whole of Brazil is disgusted.”
But not too disgusted, apparently. Bruno was released from prison and then rewarded soon after. He’s just signed a new two-year soccer deal only a month after getting out. He walked an entire 15 years early, dodging his original 2013 sentence that required him to serve a total of 22 years in prison. His lawyers obtained his release on a habeas corpus; the Brazilian courts moved slowly and failed to act on his appeal, thus freeing him. He celebrated by popping champagne with friends.
It didn’t end with the prison break, though. The 32-year-old athlete previously played for Brazilian soccer leagues Flamengo and Atletico Mineiro, both considered top-tier groups. Boa Esporte, a second-tier club, presented him with the new deal. This was unnerving for many, including women’s rights groups who work hard to fight the country’s misogynistic leanings.
“We protest both against this contract and against the willingness of the team and its sponsors to have their images linked to femicide,” wrote one group on Facebook. “A woman-killer must not be allowed a life acclaimed by the media. Bruno is no longer just a goalkeeper; his notoriety reflects the ease with which a woman’s life is forgotten in the interests of a sporting career.”
Going forward, it looks like Bruno will try to hold down his athletic career while dealing with a lifetime of consequences. Three Boa Esporte sponsors withdrew their support after the league announced Bruno’s contract signing. He recently spoke with ESPN and defended his actions, insisting that he “made a mistake” and claiming that he is “not a bad guy.”
“Mistakes happen in life,” he said, “especially when you’re around people where money and fame blind you.” It looks like the court of public opinion still believes otherwise.