Asian Cup: Aguirre deflects questions over match-fixing

January 12, 2015 8:03 am 

NEWCASTLE, Australia, Jan. 11 — Japan coach Javier Aguirre made clear at the Asian Cup on Sunday that he has no intention of discussing his alleged involvement in a match-fixing scandal in Spain in 2011.

Aguirre broke his silence on the allegations and protested his innocence at a press conference in Tokyo on Dec. 27. The 56-year-old Mexican also spoke about the issue with his players two days later at the start of their pre-tournament camp in Chiba Prefecture and has their full backing.

He has been given the backing of the Japan Football Association and told a news conference on the eve of the Blue Samurai's Asian Cup opener against Palestine that he will only be speaking about soccer at this tournament.

"I have already held a press conference to speak about this a few weeks ago and won't be answering that question," he said after being asked by a British journalist how glad he was to have the support of the JFA.

"I have been at four World Cups, four Gold Cups and three Copa Americas and in each of those tournaments I have only ever spoken about soccer. That is what I want to do at my first Asian Cup."

Captain Makoto Hasebe also emphasized that the scandal has in no way disrupted Japan's preparations for their defense of the continental title.

"I can clearly say that (the scandal) has had no effect on the team. The good thing about this team is that we all believe in each other. The players, the coach and the team staff are all pulling in the same direction," he said.

Aguirre was manager of Real Zaragoza when the team beat Levante 2-1 away at the end of the 2011 season and as a result avoided relegation to the second tier.

He could be asked to appear in Spain if the complaint is accepted by a Valencia court and a full-scale investigation is opened.

Prosecutors alleged the Levante players were reportedly paid a total of 965,000 euros to deliberately lose the game.

Zaragoza first made bank transfers to Aguirre and its players and officials, who then took the money from their accounts and passed it on to the Levante players, reports said citing the prosecutors.

Former Zaragoza president Agapito Iglesias and players from both teams are cited as defendants in the complaint. (PNA/Kyodo)

CTB/RSM

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