March 22, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) The East Timor passports of nine Brazilian soccer players who represented the tiny Pacific island nation have been declared invalid, the Asian Football Confederation said Wednesday.

FIFA has been investigating the East Timor federation for suspected involvement in wrongly naturalizing Brazilians players for selection in 2018 World Cup qualifying and other matches. East Timor has already been eliminated from World Cup Asian qualifying, which will resume this week halfway through the third round. The country has also been banned from qualifying for the Asian Cup.

The AFC released a statement Wednesday saying it had received confirmation from East Timor's Ministry of Justice, via the country's embassy in Malaysia, that the East Timor passports of the nine Brazilian players have been declared ''null and void.''

The sport's Asian governing body said it had informed its member associations and advised that further investigations were ongoing.

The stripping of the passports is likely to lead to further sanctions.

The AFC listed the players as Diogo Rangel, Felipe Bertoldo, Jairo Neto, Junior Aparecido Guimora de Souza, Patrick Fabiano, Paulo Martins, Paulo Helber, Ramon Saro and Rodrigo Silva, who all played in World Cup Asian qualifying matches in 2015.

All players have been or are registered with Asian clubs.

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