New Egypt coach Javier Aguirre dismisses reopened match-fixing case in Spain
Javier Aguirre was presented as the new coach of Egypt on Thursday and denied any involvement in a match-fixing investigation in Spain.
Six years ago, he was implicated in match-fixing accusations in La Liga, though he was never found guilty nor sentenced. Spanish prosecutors reopened the case in February and now say that Aguirre could face two years in prison if convicted in a case involving a total of 41 players and former club officials.
He has denied any wrongdoing, but Japan fired him as its coach in 2015 for his ties to the investigation.
"First of all I have to say that everything is clear here. Everything is cleared," the former Mexico national team coach said at a news conference in Cairo on Thursday. "It happened six years ago, it was 42 people, me included, that had to go through and answer some questions in hearings. Nothing found and the case collapsed. I don't know why they [Spanish authorities] reopened the case, there is still an investigation but at the end of the story, in the last six years it just took 15 minutes of my life to think and talk about this. So there's no way it can affect my job. It didn't in the last six years so there's now it can affect me for the future. Thank you."
The case involves Spanish clubs Levante and Zaragoza in 2011. The prosecutors cited evidence Zaragoza paid &euros;965,000 to Levante's players to lose a match to Zaragoza.
Coached by Aguirre at the time, Zaragoza avoided relegation by beating Levante 2-1 in the final round of the season. A lower court shelved the case but it was reopened this year after an appeal by prosecutors in Valencia, where the match was played.
"The case was closed and I don't know why it was reopened,'' Aguirre, a former Mexico player, said. "I have to say I am really honoured to be here. Even though I have more than 20 years of work as a coach, even though I have four World Cups on my back, this is the first time I will work in Africa. For me it's a big, big challenge."
Egyptian officials hope he leads the Pharoahs to a significant improvement after their dismal performance in the World Cup in Russia. Egypt lost all of its three group matches at its first World Cup in 28 years, under Hector Cuper, who was fired in late June.
"Like in Mexico, there are a lot of expectations and dreams here,'' Aguirre said. "We want to be one of the top teams in the world and we have everything that would make our dreams come true.''
Egyptian Football Association chairman Hany Abo Rida said the 59-year-old Aguirre signed a four-year contract with an annual salary of $1.4 million. He will receive a $500,000 bonus if Egypt qualifies for the World Cup in 2022 in Qatar.
"He has a respectable and impressive track record in Spain,'' Abo Rida said of Aguirra, who coached Zaragoza, Espanyol and Athletic Madrid.
Egypt's first competitive match under Aguirre will be an African Nations Cup qualifier at home on Sept. 7 against Niger.
Aguirre, who played for his country at the 1986 World Cup, took his nation to the second round at the 2010 World Cup and led them to a CONCACAF Gold Cup triumph in 2009. He also managed Japan from 2014-15 and was in charge of Atletico Madrid from 2006-09. His most recent appointment was with the Clarets in the UAE from 2015-17, winning the 2015-16 Arabian Gulf Cup and the 2017 President's Cup.
Other candidates who were considered for the Egypt job were former Espanyol coach Quique Sanchez Flores, former Japan coach Vahid Halilhodzic and former Costa Rica and Honduras coach Jorge Luis Pinto.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.