Tokyo: Japan`s football chief admitted Saturday that they wouldn`t have hired Javier Aguirre as manager of the national team if they had been aware of the match-fixing scandal currently engulfing the former Mexico coach.
"We looked at all sorts of things before signing a contract," Japan Football Association (JFA) president Kuniya Daini told local media on Saturday. "But if there had been any suspicion about match-fixing at that time, then I don`t think we would have entered into a contract with him."
Aguirre and 28 players are among those set to be summoned to appear in court in Valencia next year after a probe into a match played in May 2011 between Zaragoza and Levante.
Aguirre, who was coach of Zaragoza at the time, vehemently denied any wrongdoing in an emergency meeting with the JFA on Friday.
Aguirre, who led his native Mexico to the last 16 of the 2002 and 2010 World Cups, is expected to be be called to give evidence in February.
The controversy will do little to help Japan`s preparations for the defence of their Asian Cup title in Australia next month -- and could cause major disruption if he is summoned early.
Should legal proceedings be delayed, however, Aguirre`s appearance at the trial could have an impact on Japan`s qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup, which kick off in June.
"At this stage the coach has told us he did nothing wrong and we have to believe him," Daini told Saturday`s Nikkan Sports. "We will have to see how things develop from here and think about what to do."
Aguirre arrived back in Japan on Thursday after visiting Europe to check on players likely to be called up for the Asian Cup but has refused to make any public comment.
If found guilty, Aguirre could be sent to jail for up to four years, local media reported.