Paulo Futre has alleged former Atletico Madrid President Jesus Gil told the players to throw a 1991 match against Espanyol.
Futre, Gil’s first signing as Atletico President, told Portuguese publication Record that Gil ordered him and his teammates ‘not to run’ in an end-of-season fixture against Espanyol.
Atletico had clinched second place while Espanyol needed the win to avoid relegation and Futre claims Gil [pictured above] revealed he had reached an agreement with his Espanyol counterpart, Julio Pardo Padros.
If Atletico lost, Gil, who passed away in 2004, explained, Espanyol would agree to sell an unnamed player to the club.
“We were in the hotel in Barcelona and Gil comes to me and says ‘We can’t win today. Tell your friends not to run,’” Futre said, Marca reports.
“It was the only time something like this happened to me.
“I told him I don’t want to play, you’re the President and you tell them. Before kick-off he went into the locker room and told the team they couldn't win.
“My teammates didn’t dare to criticise him. He paid the wages and he threatened everyone with the sack if they didn’t agree.”
Marca point out that Futre duly missed the match and Atletico lost 3-1. Real Zaragoza were at the same time beaten by Cadiz, confirming Espanyol’s safety.
AS have however spoken to a number of Futre’s teammates, who have rejected the Portuguese’s version of events.
Alfredo Santaelena says that while his memory of that specific game is fuzzy, he has no memory at all of ever being asked to lose.
“Never in my life have I been asked to lose a game. I don’t remember that one but I have no memory of Gil coming in before a game and asking us to lose,” he protested.
“He came in many times and everyone knows it was sometimes to give us a ‘bonus’ but everyone would remember Jesus telling us before a game we had to lose.
“It’s a hallucination. I don’t remember why Futre didn’t play that game. But again, as a player or a Coach, I have never set out to lose a game.”
Manuel Alfaro, Patxi Ferreira and Eloy Perez echoed Alfredo’s comments, while Alex Garcia defended the honour of Luis Aragones, the Atletico Coach at the time.
“I never had the feeling the team was running less or wasn’t going to win,” he said.
“Knowing Luis, he would never lend himself to something like that. His reputation can’t be damaged. It’s impossible.”