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Romanian ex-footballer tries to clear reputation
Associated Press
2009-07-22 09:57 PM
Former Romanian footballer Gheorghe 'Gica' Popescu said Wednesday he will try to clear his reputation, after allegations that he was a spy for the Securitate secret police were dismissed by the council that holds communist-era files.

The Council for the Study of the Securitate Archives said Tuesday there is no evidence in the files that Popescu did anything in the communist era that violated human rights. The council cleared him of collaborating with the feared Securitate.

"The accusations damaged my reputation," Popescu said. "Newspapers abroad published stories that I was a spy. I cannot allow people to believe that the former Barcelona captain was a spy."

Popescu, who played for Barcelona between 1995-97, said he will organize a news conference in the Spanish city next week, to present his position and try to clear his name.

The former footballer threatened to sue the two newspapers that accused him of collaboration with the Securitate.

"The only way to get justice is in court", he said.

"You've accused me, you've condemned me and you shot me," Popescu told journalists. "I have made mistakes (...) but please do not accuse me of something I have not done. I did not collaborate with the Securitate."

Popescu said the accusations made him more upset than the national team's defeat against Sweden in the 1994 World Cup quarterfinals.

"It is hard and frustrating to prove something is not true," he said.

Last month, two newspapers alleged that notes in his file showed that Popescu was a Securitate informer. The secret police of late dictator Nicolae Ceausescu had an estimated 750,000 informants in a country of 23 million.

Popescu, 41, denied allegations but later conceded he signed a document promising to "defend the national interests" during the communist era and wrote four notes providing information about teammates.

He now says he does not remember signing the notes, although they appear under his name.

Popescu said his file is largely made up of reports written by two Securitate agents who were keeping an eye on the footballers when they went abroad. He said the handwriting of one of the agents is similar to his, and implied that the agent could have written the notes and signed them in his name.

Popescu also played for Tottenham, PSV Eindhoven and Galatasaray and was the Romanian footballer of the year six times. He played 115 games for Romania, scoring 16 goals, before retiring in 2003.

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