Japan coach Aguirre denies match-fixing
Japan coach Javier Aguirre has protested his innocence over match-fixing allegations during a meeting with officials of the Japan Football Association, a JFA lawyer said.
"He told me he was very angry, and that he has never done such a thing as a professional football coach," JFA lead attorney Yutaka Miyoshi told a news conference late Thursday, after a two-hour meeting with Aguirre.
Spanish media have reported the Mexican and around 30 others are suspected of fixing a Levante-Zaragoza league game in May 2011.
Reports said the country`s prosecutors are preparing formal charges against the suspects, including 56-year-old Aguirre, who is on a record salary for a Japan coach of an estimated $2.45 million a year.
"At this point we don`t have materials nor evidence to show his involvement. We have no choice but to trust what he said," Miyoshi told reporters.
If Aguirre is prosecuted, he could be ordered to appear in a Spanish court in February, Miyoshi said, citing the coach`s lawyer.
"This is not the end of it," Miyoshi said, adding that the JFA "will make a judgement" while watching "how the investigation unfolds".
Aguirre was in charge of then first-division Zaragoza when they won 2-1 at the end of the 2010-2011 season at Levante, a result that saved them from relegation.
In June 2013, Spanish league president Javier Tebas included the Levante-Zaragoza match in a list of nine suspect games that the league was investigating for possible match-fixing.
Both clubs have denied any wrongdoing and have said they will cooperate fully with the inquiry, according to news reports.
Aguirre, who had been scouting players in Europe, flew back to Japan on Thursday, ignoring reporters who were waiting for him at the airport.