Football: Romania coach gets suspended one-year jail term

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Romania coach Victor Piturca has been handed a suspended one-year prison sentence for aiding and abetting controversial Steaua Bucharest owner George Becali in a high-profile corruption case in the Balkan country, the supreme court said.

Piturca, 57, was found guilty for his role in the case that was instigated in 2008 following a criminal inquiry by Romania's Anti-Corruption Department (DNA) when four people were detained in a Cluj restaurant in possession of 1.7 million euros (S$2.78 million).

The DNA accused Becali of trying to bribe players and officials from Universitatea Cluj "to do anything possible" to draw or beat CFR Cluj, Steaua's main title rivals at the time.

Cluj beat Universitatea 1-0 to win the league by a single point from Steaua.

Piturca, who returned as national coach for a third time in 2011, attempted to divert attention away from the match-fixing case, known locally as "The Suitcase", when he claimed he had seen a document which said Becali had paid a large amount of money to buy land.

Last month, the outspoken Becali was jailed for three years for abuse of power in a case involving an illegal exchange of land with the Ministry of Defence.

He also received a three-year sentence on Tuesday after he was found guilty in the match-fixing trial, with both terms to run concurrently.

On Tuesday, Romania thrashed Trinidad and Tobago 4-0 in an international friendly at the National Arena in Bucharest but Piturca refused to comment on the legal proceedings.

Romania are third in the 2014 World Cup European qualifying Group D on 10 points from six matches, eight points behind leaders Netherlands and one behind Hungary.