Brazilian prosecutors have opened an investigation into Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A club Santos for alleged illegal child work and have requested that the club suspend all activities of its academy.
The Sao Paulo state labor prosecutors’ office issued a statement on Wednesday saying that a court will give Santos until July 26 to introduce its defence.
Santos responded with a statement describing the prosecutors’ claims as absurd and said it will present its arguments in a timely manner. The case is sealed because it involves minors.
Santos is the club where Pelé and Neymar began their climbs to fame and is recognized globally for the success of its academy.
Santos said its academy divisions “are recognized as a model for the upbringing of children and teenagers through sport” and that it abides by the country’s legislation.
A source involved in the investigation told The Associated Press that 75 children aged under 13 worked for Santos without contracts, rights or pay. The source spoke under the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.