Steaua Bucharest owner Becali jailed for abuse of power

George BecaliBy Andrew Warshaw
May 21 - George Becali, outspoken owner of leading Romanian club Steaua Bucharest, has been jailed for abuse of power in his role a member of parliament, according to local reports.

Becali, 54, was convicted by Romania's highest court along with two former Defence Ministry officials, whom prosecutors accused of handing him 30 hectares of farmland that belonged to the state, costing the government about $900,000.

Some reports said Becali's sentence was for two years, others three. What is known is that police stopped Becali, known for his homophobic tendendies and extremist views, on Sunday night as he tried to fly to Israel. In February, he received a suspended three-year prison sentence for illegally detaining three people in the boot of a car.

One of the country's richest men, the former shepherd has constantly courted controversy with human rights groups accusing him of widespread discrimination during his time in politics.

The European Court of Justice recently denounced Becali for effectively saying he would never sign a gay footballer. According to local reports, Becali has previously vowed to "get rid of all homosexual and lesbian clubs". He has also allegedly described a black TV presenter as an "ape" and said women "have no more value" after giving birth.

Since taking over at Steaua, who have just won their 24th league title, he has fired a succession of coaches. Even Gheorghe Hagi, Romania's most iconic player, lasted less than four months.

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