December 27, 2014 / 1:16 PM / 4 years ago

Japan coach Aguirre denies match-fixing, calls for calm

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan coach Javier Aguirre denied on Saturday any involvement in match-fixing in Spain and called for calm from the team’s supporters during their Asian Cup defence.

Japan's national soccer team head coach Javier Aguirre of Mexico walks into a news conference at the Japan Football Association headquarters in Tokyo December 27, 2014. REUTERS/Yuya Shino

The Mexican was among 41 people named by Spain’s anti-corruption prosecutor in court this month following a probe into Real Zaragoza’s 2-1 win at Levante on the final day of the 2010-11 campaign.

The victory ensured Zaragoza, coached by Aguirre, avoided relegation.

The Japan Football Association has sent a delegation to Spain to conduct a probe into the case but said Aguirre will remain in charge for next month’s Asian Cup in Australia.

Speaking through a translator, Aguirre said he believed Spanish football was clean and the investigation would not impact Japan’s preparations for the tournament.

“I worked in Spain for 12 years and I have never done anything unethical or unprofessional,” Aguirre told reporters at the JFA’s headquarters in Tokyo on Saturday.

“I would like to tell our supporters to stay calm during this investigation. We need their support to take the Asian Cup title.

“I will be concentrating and preparing for the Japan team to win the Asian Cup.”

The 56-year-old Aguirre replaced Italian Alberto Zaccheroni, who stepped down after Japan were eliminated in the first round of this year’s World Cup in Brazil.

The prosecutor in Spain alleges the Levante players were paid a total of 965,000 euros to deliberately lose the game.

“I will be cooperating with the Spanish authorities and seeing this case through to the end,” Aguirre added.

Defending champions Japan open their tournament against Palestine on Jan. 12 and also have Iraq and Jordan in their group.

Writing by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Ed Osmond

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