Japan FA delay probe into match-fixing scandal

AFP , Thursday 15 Jan 2015

The Japan Football Association said Thursday it will not address a match-fixing scandal engulfing Japan coach Javier Aguirre until after the Asian Cup, as speculation grows over the Mexican's possible sacking.

The storm clouds swirling around the 56-year-old have caused major embarrassment to the JFA and threatened to unsettle the national team, the Blue Samurai, as they look defend their title at the tournament in Australia.

Aguirre, who has vehemently denied any wrongdoing, will appear in court in Valencia this year following an investigation into a match played in 2011 when he was manager of Spanish club Zaragoza.

On Thursday, JFA President Kuniya Daini said he took "seriously" media reports that a Spanish court has accepted claims by prosecutors that Aguirre and dozens of others took part in the alleged match-fixing.

But "what can the Japan Football Association do now, with the Asian Cup under way? Our priority is (to) make sure that the national team focuses on the matches ahead of them," Daini told reporters in Tokyo.

"We will explain our thoughts and how we're going to deal with this issue after (the tournament) ends," he added.

JFA officials are furious about the disruption caused to Japan's Asian Cup defence and potentially the team's 2018 World Cup qualifiers, which begin in June.

Aguirre, who led Mexico to the last 16 of the 2002 and 2010 World Cups, took over from Italian Alberto Zaccheroni following Japan's World Cup flop last year

There are also doubts about the coach's performance, with some critics suggesting his possible early release if the team falter, regardless of his legal woes.

If found guilty, Aguirre could be sent to jail for up to four years, reports have said.

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