Popescu loses tax evasion appeal
Former Barcelona and Tottenham Hotspur defender Gica Popescu is one of eight Romanian football officials handed prison sentences for tax evasion and money laundering in connection with the transfers of 12 players.
Popescu, 46, was sentenced to three years and one month by an appeals court in Bucharest. Former Dinamo Bucharest executive chairman Cristi Borcea (six years and four months) and Rapid Bucharest chairman George Copos (three years and eight months) were among the others jailed in the Romanian capital following their original convictions in November 2012.
The case involves players transferred from Dinamo, Rapid, Otelul Galati and Gloria Bistrita to foreign clubs between 1999 and 2005.
Prosecutors said the state lost 1.7 million euros in taxes and the clubs lost 10 million euros because the officials registered false sums for the transfers.
In 2006 Popescu admitted he had made an error in the 2003 transfer of Florian Batu from Rapid Bucharest to Galatasaray, and paid around 300,000 euros in tax for the sum earned from the deal. He resigned as a FIFA agent soon after.
The former Romania captain , who won European Cup Winners' Cup at Barca in 1997 as well as six league titles across spells at Steaua Bucharest, PSV Eindhoven and Galatasaray, had been a leading candidate in the election of a new chairman of the Romanian Football Federation to be held on March 5.
The six-time Romanian Footballer of the Year told the country's national press agency, Agerpress, last week that he expected to win his appeal and was looking ahead to taking the top job at the federation.
"Since this trial began I have made no public statements regarding the trial," he said. "There's three more days and it will all end. Let's be patient. I'm very optimistic as a rule. I've waited nine years, there's only three days left."
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report