Japan coach Javier Aguirre on Saturday evening rejected any accusations of impropriety during his time as head coach of Spanish club Real Zaragoza.
The press conference came less than two days before Samurai Blue are scheduled to assemble in order to prepare for next month’s Asian Cup defence.
“I believe that Spanish football is clean,” Aguirre told reporters at JFA House, flanked by his translator and a JFA press official. “I was involved in Spanish football for 10 years and never witnessed anything improper.
“The only thing that a team needs to win a match is effort. I wasn’t given any gifts nor did I ask for any.”
The scandal centres around whether or not Aguirre and a number of other parties transferred funds to Levante before a 2010-11 season La Liga match that resulted in a 2-1 win to keep Zaragoza in the top division. The allegations have rocked supporters and threatened to dethrone the Mexican coach just months after he took his new post.
“I intend to cooperate fully with authorities in Spain until the conclusion of their investigation,” Aguirre emphasized, affirming that the investigation would not interfere with his duties in January. “I want to ask Japan’s supporters to not be concerned, as their strength is necessary in order to defend the Asian Cup.”
Aguirre is just one of over 40 former players and staff who have been named in the report, which was released on December 15.
“I prepared to win just as I’ve prepared for the other 450 matches I’ve taken part in,” Aguirre said when asked to recall the match in question. “We scored two great goals, and after they took one goal back it was a bitter fight to the end. 12,000 Zaragoza fans went to Valencia.”
Aguirre declined to answer questions regarding whether or not he had considered resigning from his current post, several times deferring to the advice of his lawyers.
“I’ve been involved in the sport for 39 years,” he stated several times over the course of the press conference. “I’m as surprised as anyone here at these accusations.”