Cape Town City among a number of international clubs duped by fake footballer
Con man unmasked by Danish club Viborg a week after signing him on agent's 'recommendation'
Cape Town City look to have been among a number of international clubs duped by a fake footballer‚ who was arrested in Denmark this week for robbery.
Bernio Verhagen‚ supposedly a promising 25-year-old right-wing from the Netherlands who had trained at several top clubs‚ was signed by the Premier Soccer League club in August but quickly turned out to be useless and the club let him quietly leave to avoid embarrassment.
But it turns out City are among several clubs that signed the con man‚ including Dinamo Auto Tiraspol in Moldova‚ Audax Italiano in Chile and the Danish club Viborg‚ where he was unmasked this week.
City owner John Comitis‚ according to club spokesperson Julian Bailey‚ signed him from the Netherlands on the advice of a “well trusted international agent” just before the start of the new season in August.
“But it turned out to be a fake phone call with someone imitating the agent. Unfortunately we had done the paperwork but luckily no money had been paid over‚” he explained.
Verhagen trained for just two days with the first team squad before it was obvious he was not up to standard and sent to play with the reserves.
Verhagen’s arrival was trumpeted by the club on social media‚ though those posts have since been removed.
He quietly slipped away after just six weeks‚ going off to Chile.
Verhagen was unmasked this week when the Danish club Viborg cancelled his contract after just a week.
He has since been arrested for an alleged hold-up outside the train station in the Danish town after a charge of fraud had been laid against him by the club.
Comitis’s signing of players without consulting his coach Benni McCarthy was one of the major causes of the fallout between owner and coach over the last month before the mentor’s departure and will be a source of much embarrassment now that the true story behind Verhagen has come to light.
It exposes a common practice in SA where club owners and chairmen sign players without consulting their technical teams.
Verhagen was allegedly represented by the London-based Stellar Group‚ who are a formidable force in the business of buying and selling players.
It was all exposed earlier this week at Viborg‚ according to Danish media‚ after the club and player agreed to the termination of his contract a week after his arrival.
A three-hour meeting ended with the club’s sports manager Jesper Fredberg driving Verhagen away from the club to hand him over to the police station in Viborg‚ where the club filed a fraud report.