Egypt names Aguirre as national coach despite investigation
CAIRO (AP) — Javier Aguirre became the new coach of Egypt on Thursday despite his involvement in a match-fixing investigation in Spain.
Spanish prosecutors said in February that Aguirre was facing 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.
“Everything is cleared,” Aguirre said at a news conference in Cairo on Thursday. “There is no way it (the investigation) will affect my work here.”
The case involves Spanish clubs Levante and Zaragoza in 2011. The prosecutors cited evidence Zaragoza paid 965,000 euros 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 and coach, said.
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 Argentine 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.