Aguirre situation a difficult one to watch
I would like to do it. I was tempted, I controlled myself, sat on my hands, held my breath and closed my eyes. I want stick my neck out for him. I'm tempted to do it. I want to but can't. I can but don't want to. It's a tricky situation.
There are two things at stake here. The most important thing is his credibility as a person, as a man, and as a father. But also a powered reputation earned on the field as a soccer player and coach and a situation where he could even be put in jail.
My perception of Javier Aguirre -- of who he is, his significance, what he accomplished, what he established on and off the field, who I hope and pray he is-- is that he should continue to be innocent until proven guilty.
The insinuations helped force the decisions this week in Tokyo. They certainly had some influence on the decision of the Japanese Federation authorities to cancel his contract as Japan national team coach, as did the ramifications of the failure in the Asian Cup. But the main issue is what happened or didn't happen in the latter stages of the 2010-11 Spanish La Liga season during the suspicious game between Zaragoza and Levante. The accusations of the Spanish prosecutor are serious and promise to carry grave consequences. Fixing matches, the corruption surrounding the leagues, has been one of the most relentlessly pursued issues in the history of modern European soccer.
I met Aguirre when his career as a player was winding down and he was positioning himself to be the coach everyone knows him as today. A man of integrity, unimpeachable, he always honored his profession. He gave every last drop of sweat and sacrificed what he had to sacrifice to build a great career as a player. Both on and off the field, his friends always spoke highly of him, and his enemies respected him. He had, and continues to have, the mental power of a leader that would do nothing to disgrace those he led and those that trusted him.
Just four month ago, I ran into Aguirre in Pachuca on the day he was admitted into the Mexican Soccer Hall of Fame. At that time he seemed relaxed to me, excited about the chance to coach in Japan and not fully aware of what was beginning to unfold in Spain.
What has happened is a shame. We'll have to wait and see. For me, at least in my heart, Javier Aguirre and will continue to be innocent until proven guilty. I want stick my neck out for him. I'm tempted to do it. I want to but can't. I can but don't want to.
David Faitelson is based in Los Angeles and co-hosts "Nacion ESPN," ESPN Deportes' version of "SportsNation." Follow him on Twitter @Faitelson_ESPN.