European Football - Former Barca and Spurs star Popescu jailed

Former Romania defender Gheorghe Popescu has been jailed as Romanian courts sentenced eight football officials for tax evasion and money laundering.

Reuters
European Football - Former Barca and Spurs star Popescu jailed
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Romania's Gheorghe Popescu waves to supporters as he walks off the pitch after his team defeated England 2-1 in a group G World Cup match in Toulouse June 22, 1998 (Reuters)

'Gica' Popescu, who played for clubs including PSV Eindhoven, Tottenham Hotspur, Barcelona and Galatasaray, was sentenced to three years and one month.

The 46-year-old, who was named player of the year in Romania six times, was among the favourites to become president of the domestic football federation, with elections taking place on Wednesday.

He was capped 115 times by Romania and is considered one of the best players to have played for the Balkan country. He was a key member of the Romania team at the World Cup finals in 1990, 1994 and 1998 and at the European championships in 1996 and 2000.

Steaua Bucharest's general manager Mihai Stoica was sentenced to three years and six months in jail, former Rapid Bucharest owner George Copos received three years and eight months and former Dinamo Bucharest owner Cristian Borcea got six years and four months.

"The sentences cannot be appealed and are deemed final," the Bucharest Court of Appeal said in a statement.

The court found that 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 of 12 players between 1999 and 2005.

The transfers involved players moving from Romanian teams, such as Bucharest rivals Dinamo and Rapid, Gloria Bistrita and Otelul Galati, to foreign clubs and included former Romania internationals Cosmin Contra and Ionel Ganea.

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