LONDON (Reuters) - Queens Park Rangers manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink said on Friday he was naive to be sucked into a soccer corruption scandal but “taking money is not what I stand for”.
“I have never done it, I would never do it just to get a player to the club so I can benefit from that. No. I want to win games,” the Dutchman added in an interview with Sky Sports television.
The second tier West London club, majority owned by Malaysia’s AirAsia airline boss Tony Fernandes, said internal enquiries into allegations made by the Daily Telegraph were on hold until the newspaper provided all the information it had.
Hasselbaink was accused of seeking a 55,000 pound fee from undercover reporters, purportedly representing a firm interested in involvement in player transfers, to fly to the Far East and make a speech.
Asked whether he had any regrets about the filmed meeting, Hasselbaink replied: ”Big time. Big time.
”You know, you reflect, you think back and you criticise yourself and you must say that I have been naive. I have been naive.
“But then, with everything with it, I have never asked for money for myself to take a player or to bring a player to the club. I would never do that. That’s the painful thing about it,” he added.
The former Dutch international said he understood people would think 55,000 pounds was a lot of money, but “in the industry that I‘m in” he was fortunate to be able to make such figures.
“I was negotiating to go to Singapore for a speech. That’s it,” he said. “No favouritism, no strings attached, what I would never ever do. I would not put myself in that position.”
Asked whether it had crossed his mind at any point that the speaking payment was linked to taking on one of the company’s players, he replied: “Never. I would walk out of it. Because I know that would bring me in deep trouble.”
The 44-year-old manager, Premier League top scorer in 1998-99 with Leeds United and 2000-01 with Chelsea, said he had no control over transfers, which were handled by the board.
The newspaper’s revelations have so far led to England manager Sam Allardyce and Barnsley assistant manager Tommy Wright losing their jobs.
The long-running investigation by the newspaper also suggested eight current and former Premier League managers had received ‘bungs’, or illicit payments, for player transfers.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ed Osmond