Ricardo Alfieri, a photographer covering the 1990 World Cup in Italy, captured a series of images that exposed a blatant attempt to tilt the results of a critical game between Brazil and Chile.
A flare fired from the Brazilian section of Maracana Stadium appeared to strike Chilean goalkeeper Roberto Rojas bloody, jeopardizing the Brazilian team’s continued participation in in the tournament.
“Amazing as it may sound, no TV camera caught the moment the flare flew over and supposedly hit the goalkeeper,” photographer Paulo Teixeira told CNN.
“I missed the shot and so did most of the photographers,” he added. “But there was one guy by me — Ricardo Alfieri, a good friend — and I asked him, ‘Ricardo, did you capture the flare?’ He said, ‘Of course, about four, five shots.’”
After a hastily processing lab was readied to develop the film, Brazilian newspaper Globo agreed to pay the then-exorbitant sum of $5,000 for rights to the photos.
The images showed that the flare had landed about a meter away from Chile’s goaltender, who faked the injury by cutting himself with a hidden razor blade in an attempt to eliminate Brazil’s team.
FIFA awarded Brazil a 2-0 technical victory that took it to the finals and banned goalie Rojas for life.
His wife, Viviane Rojas, told CNN that her husband, who at the time played professionally for Sao Paulo, had been forgiven by the city.
“Here in Brazil, Roberto has always been loved,” she said. “The most important thing for Brazilians is that he has, in his interviews, come across as a human being with a very distinct and good character. He has admitted his guilt and been forgiven.”