Javier Aguirre has been sacked as Japan’s national team coach due to implications of the Mexican’s involvement in possible match-fixing while in charge of Real Zaragoza. The Japanese Football Federation (JFA) announced the termination of his contract earlier today.
During the build-up to the Asian Cup, Aguirre was cited as part of the Levante-Zaragosa match-fixing case which stems from the 2010-11 season. Zaragosa won the match 2-1 on the last day of the campaign and as a result remained avoided relegation from La Liga.
Aguirre, along with various players from both teams, has been called to give evidence in the ongoing investigation into possible match-fixing allegations during that match.
Prior to the Asian Cup, the JFA refused to comment on the match-fixing allegations and backed Aguirre as the national team coach.
Japan went on to advance past the group stages – without conceding a goal – but were eventually eliminated from the tournament on penalty kicks in the quarter-final by the United Arab Emirate.
Following the conclusion of the Asian Cup, the JFA admitted that Aguirre’s days as coach of the “Samurai Blue” were numbered and earlier today it was confirmed that the Mexican had been fired.
“Since taking over the team, we are happy with the job he has done for us,” Kuniya Daini president of the JFA said. “We think very highly of Mr. Aguirre’s skill as a coach.”
Despite the public praise, the JFA president went on to say that the association’s top priority was to keep the team focused on qualifying games for the 2018 World Cup which starts in June.
Aguirre is set to appear in court on February 25 – along with 40 other individuals – to testify in the match-fixing case. With upcoming matches against Tunisia and Uzbekistan in March, the JFA wants to avoid any distractions the match-fixing case may have had to Japan’s national team and the association is looking to find a replacement for Aguirre immediately.