Sydney Lemos lost his freedom and his company and now he is losing his football club, FC Bardez in Dubai, too. Lemos’s claim to fame in Dubai started with a small football club called FC Bardez. Sydney Lemos was the owner of the club and also a player in the same. It was how he moved into the Goan football world and became one of the major sponsors of FC Goa in 2015.
Today, Sydney Lemos sits in jail. He was the mastermind of a Ponzi scheme which came to light two years ago. Almost 7000+ UAE residents working in the aviation and gas sectors had invested money in Lemos’s Exential Group. With a Ponzi scheme of over 200 million, Lemos managed to dupe a majority of them out of their live savings. Investors have taken him to court and are demanding to know where their money is. In the meantime, Lemos, along with his senior accounts specialist, Ryan de Souza have been given sentences of over 500 years each.
A change for FC Bardez in Dubai
FC Bardez is very popular in Dubai. The players have met football greats like Ronaldinho and Zico. Neymar even made a surprise phone to Valany Cardozo Lemos, Sydney’s wife. She has left the country after the scam and is now hiding in Goa. However, as Sydney Lemos serves his 500 years sentence in the Dubai jail, the club has made plans to move on without him. The team is planning to change its name and its identity connected with the scamster.
FC Bardez has tried to hold their own for the past year ever since the scam came to light. They have fought on the field and off it too. The club even found a new patron to sponsor it. But the notoriety of Sydney’s actions has followed the team everywhere.
“Sydney was our sponsor but without him, too, we continued for a year with a new sponsor. It’s a community thing out here (in Dubai). (But) now there is a lot of negativity, so we might change the name. It’s sensitive (issue),” club manager Gilroy Fernandes told TOI from Dubai.
The worry on Gilroy’s part is understandable. Exential’s forex scam and subsequent shut down by the Dubai authorities in 2016 have left hundreds without jobs. A lot of investors, primarily Goans working in Dubai, lost their life savings.
“We thought about changing the name last year as well. Despite what has happened in the past one year, we will continue to provide an opportunity (for Goans) to play football. We will soon have new branding (for the club). Let people come forward,” said the club manager.
The start of FC Bardez in Dubai
Sydney and Gilroy started the club in 2012 in Dubai, along with a group of friends. Sydney was an avid player in Goa and played for other ‘village’ teams in Dubai as well. But he wanted something of his own. FC Bardez was then conceptualized, and besides being a defender—always guaranteed of his place—he was the financer too.
He went further and assisted boys that couldn’t make a career out of football in Goa by bringing them to Dubai. Lemos would either give them jobs in his companies – Exential and FC Prime Markets – or make sure they got settled in the hospitality sector.
What happens to the FC Bardez team in Goa?
Besides FC Bardez in Dubai, Lemos also owns a football club in Goa. With the state of things, this club is not doing well at all either. Last season was a good one for them. They got 1 crore funding from Lemos and even managed to appoint Armando Colaço as the coach and get former India captain Climax Lawrence on board. This season has been one to wipe out of the mind.
The Goan team finished 10th out of 12 teams in the Goa Professional League. Now the club’s future is at stake and there is no guarantee of them playing in the I-League, India’s top-tier club competition.
“Irrespective of what has happened with the sponsorship, the club somehow maintained its position in the league. We intend to continue in the coming years but with a much more thoughtful process,” co-owner Savio Roy D’Souza had told TOI in a previous interview.
Information credit – TOI