striker pleads innocence

Pizarro facing two-year ban amid agent claims?

March 17, 2009

Peruvian international striker Claudio Pizarro insists he has done nothing wrong amid reports he could face a two-year ban for acting as an agent.

The Chelsea striker, currently on a season-long loan at Bundesliga side Werder Bremen, is being investigated for his involvement in the deal which saw Bremen sign his compatriot Roberto Silva in 2001.

It is against FIFA rules for an active player to act as an agent, and - in the worst case scenario - Pizarro could be banned for 24 months.

Bremen chairman Jurgen L Born is also suspected of having profited from the deal and has stepped down from his post while the investigation takes place.

But Pizarro claims he is innocent and is not letting the reports get to him ahead of Wednesday night's UEFA Cup last-16 second leg at St Etienne.

''It is a load of rubbish,'' said the 30-year-old, who spent two years at Bremen from 1999. ''The whole thing does not bother me on the pitch at all.

''Peru is a great, beautiful country, but unfortunately there are people there who are angry. They don't like it when somebody is successful so they get jealous.

''This has been going on for four years.''

Peru coach Jose Guillermo Del Solar offered support to Pizarro after news of the FIFA investigation emerged.

''I will not add fuel to the fire,'' he said. ''I know this is not a good time for him and I hope this problem can be sorted out and Claudio can overcome it. I truly wish him well.''

Pizarro claims two large sums transferred into his account in 2001 were to do with his horse business.

Del Solar added: ''The person who took Claudio to horse races to buy some animals was me when we were team-mates in the national team under Julio Cesar Uribe.

''I took him to horse auctions. We bought a couple of horses together and kept them for about four years.''