Former Tottenhama star Gheorghe Popescu was sentenced to three years in jail by the Bucharest Court of Appeal due to scams on player transfers.
After a long and slow investigation, Popescu was handed a prison sentence for money laundering and tax evasion, as twelve transfers from Romanian clubs to other teams abroad were criminally investigated by Romanian authorities.
Popescu is part of a group of several individuals connected with football - Cristi Borcea, Victor Becali, Ioan Becali, George Copos, Mihai Stoica, Jean Padureanu, and Gheorghe Netoiu - who were also involved in the twelve transfers from Rapid Bucharest, Dinamo Bucharest, Otelul Galati, and Gloria Bistrita to foreign teams from 1999 to 2005.
Gica Popescu appealed after being convicted last November, however, this action was turned down by the Bucharest Court of Appeal and the decision was considered final, thus making the prison facilities the “home” of the former Romanian international for the next three years and one month.
Popescu arrived in London to play for Tottenham in 1994, after a successful stint at Dutch side of PSV Eindhoven. The versatile sweeper enjoyed a fantastic career as a footballer and he is certainly one of the very few players that managed to play for all major European football leagues during his nineteen years as a professional footballer .
Apart from Spurs and PSV, Popescu played for Barcelona, Galatasaray, Lecce, Hannover 96, Dinamo Bucuresti, Steaua Bucuresti, and Universitatea Craiova.
Popescu’s career with the Romanian national side was also remarkable, since he served his country on more than 100 different occasions and played in the World Cup in three different competitions (1990, 1994, 1998).
Popescu was also considered the Romanian Footballer of the Year six times and he was, by far, one of the most important players in the history of Romanian football.
Corruption and match fixing is something that has been staining Romanian football for a long time. Although things started to escalate following the fall of communism back in the late 1980's. Although there were several investigations and convictions in the past, this is certainly the first time that such an important former player and Romanian “hero” is sentenced to jail.