DUBAI United Arab Emirates club Al Nasr are backing their Brazil-born forward Santos Monteiro Junior Wanderley after he was provisionally suspended by the Asian Football Confederation pending an investigation into his nationality.
The 27-year-old was banned for 60 days by the AFC on Friday after Indonesian authorities said his passport was forged or falsified.
"Our legal team is already in receipt of all documents so that we can file our response before the AFC,” Humaid Al Tayer, board chairman of the Al Nasr Football Company, told Emirati newspaper Gulf News.
"We are behind Wanderley as we have signed him after duly scrutinising all documents and paperwork."
The AFC said Wanderley had registered in the Asian Champions League (ACL) tournament as an 'Asian player'.
Participating clubs are allowed to field three foreign players and a fourth non-citizen who has nationality of one of the AFC's 46 member nations.
The governing body said it had sought explanations from three players that had played in the tournament about how they had obtained their nationalities.
It said it was also conducting an investigation into the misappropriation of "certain passports" that had been used in AFC national competitions.
Wanderley, who played for Brazilian clubs Flamengo and Cruzeiro before spending the last five years playing for Middle Eastern sides, scored a brace for Al Nasr against Qatari side El Jaish in the first leg of their ACL quarter-final two weeks ago.
The return leg is in Dubai on Sept. 24.
“It was a surprise for all of us and I really don’t know how his absence is going to impact us,” Al Nasr coach Ivan Jovanovic told local media on Friday.
(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Peter Rutherford)