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Romanian football played behind bars: 8 heavyweights sentenced to prison

March 4, 2014 4 comments

It was called “The transfers file” and, strictly linked to an investigation lead by Gazeta Sporturilor, ended up today, after eight long years, with eight important names sent behind bars, for money laundering and tax evasion. The biggest of all: Gheorghe Popescu, former Romanian international, former Barcelona captain, who was days away from taking over the presidency of the Romanian Football Federation…

“I would have sold players to Bin Laden back then, it was all about getting money”, stated Cristian Borcea a while ago in front of judges who have felt everything, from mockery to fear, during this long period, from the persons pleading their innocence. Borcea was a key shareholder with Dinamo and just like George Copos, who took Rapid from glory to agony during his tenure as club owner, had retired from the spotlight, laying low, hoping it will all go away.

Others haven’t. Brothers Victor and Ioan “Giovani” Becali went on pulling strings on the transfer market, Mihai Stoica was in charge of Steaua, while Gheorghe Popescu had all but moved his family pictures into the office that Mircea Sandu is preparing to leave. Surprisingly, the race for the presidency of the FRF lost its front-runner at the last minute and for a very long time.

Here’s the list of the definitive sentences heard today:

  • George Copos (former owner of Rapid Bucharest) – 3 years and 8 months
  • Mihai Stoica (current Steaua sporting director) – 3 years and 6 months
  • Cristi Borcea (former shareholder at Dinamo Bucharest) – 6 years and 4 months
  • Ioan Becali (FIFA agent) – 6 years and 4 months
  • Victor Becali (FIFA agent) – 4 years and 8 months
  • Jean Padureanu (former president of Gloria Bistrita) – 3 years and 4 months
  • Gheorghe Popescu (former international, lobbied Florin Bratu’s transfer to Galatasaray) – 3 years and 1 month
  • Gigi Netoiu (former shareholder at various clubs) – 3 years and 4 months

All were involved in deals that saw player sold abroad, smaller transfer fees entered in the clubs’ books and part of the real fees ran through personal off-shore accounts.

Here’s the list of transfers that lead to the above sentences:

  • Iulian Arhire – from Otelul Galati to Pohang Steelers (1999)
  • Ionel Ganea – from Gloria Bistrita to VfB Stuttgart (1999)
  • Cristi Dulca – from Rapid to Pohang Steelers (1999)
  • Cosmin Contra – from Dinamo to Deportivo Alaves (1999)
  • Bogdan Mara – from Dinamo to Deportivo Alaves (2001)
  • Paul Codrea – from Dinamo to Genoa (2001)
  • Florin Cernat – from Dinamo to Dynamo Kiew (2001)
  • Nicolae Mitea – from Dinamo to Ajax (2003)
  • Lucian Sanmartean – from Gloria Bistrita to Panathinaikos (2003)
  • Florin Bratu – from Rapid to Galatasaray (2003)
  • Adrian Mihalcea – from Dinamo to Chunnam (2004)
  • Dan Alexa – from Dinamo to Beijing Guoan (2004)

Today’s decisions came as a shock for those involved in Romanian football. Lighter sentences for a couple of those involved and no punishment at all for the likes of Mihai Stoica and Gheorghe Popescu were expected. Well, sometimes, unlike Romanian football, Romanian justice can be unpredictable…

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