Ivan Leko is angry, and that is not about the loss of the Chinese FA Cup last week as coach of Shanghai Port FC. The Croat has been hurt in his honor by the public statements of the Serbian broker Dejan Veljkovic. The two, Veljkovic said in an interview with our newspaper last month, had been good friends for many years. Veljkovic acted as a broker for a while and launched Leko as a trainer at OH Leuven.
The Croatian trainer then went to Sint-Truiden, through his new broker Dragan Siljanoski. Afterwards, it went to Club Brugge where he – dixit the first regretful optant of the Belgian court – secretly took money as a trainer in four transfers: with those of Mats Rits, Karlo Letica and Ivan Tomecak, and Leko would also have made money on the transfer earlier. by Steven DePeter.
“Leko is not Veljkovic”
A large part of the agreed amounts – “300,000 euros in total” – was never paid out because Operation Clean Hands erupted in October 2018. Serious accusations against the Croat. When Leko was released after a night in jail in October 2018, his lawyer Walter Van Steenbrugge spoke clearly: “Leko is not Veljkovic.”
“We have had no contact since the affair,” Veljkovic responded in our newspaper three years later. “I will never understand that he has accused me so openly through his lawyer and denies the light of the sun himself.”
He also called Leko a traitor and also made it to the VRT program ‘Cloth’ hard on his friend at the time. Just like in his book The confession of Dejan Veljkovic. Leko, meanwhile at his seventh club as a trainer, was portrayed in the broadcast as a trainer who secretly let himself be paid extra in black and cashed money with various players he drafted. According to our information, the public prosecutor’s office believes it has sufficient evidence to prosecute Leko.
“Manifest lies”, says Leko. He ordered his lawyer from Shanghai to stop the public pillory by Veljkovic. On Thursday, the Serbian broker received a summons in the mail. Leko takes Veljkovic to the civil court in Antwerp. Through his lawyer, he speaks of irreparable reputational damage and denounces the violation of the presumption of innocence. “His reputation as a coach is very important as it affects his market value and his salary.”
Leko does not accept that Veljkovic has assumed a kind of aura of credibility because of his status of regretful optant. Van Steenbrugge emphasizes in the summons that the memorandum, say the deal between the Serbian rogue broker and the federal prosecutor’s office, was approved without contradiction by the Antwerp Chamber of Indictment. (arrest van 25 november 2021, red.).
Leko, but also all other people from Belgian football who spoke to the regret optant on the gallows, were not present at that court session. Leko denounces the fact that his former friend is flirting with his special status.
Next step: the court
Leko emphasizes that he is not a cheating trainer, insists that Veljkovic is talking from his neck and says that his honor and dignity have been seriously violated. Result: a smear campaign and irreparable reputational damage, it sounds. He speaks of reprehensible and criminal offences.
Veljkovic will therefore have to appear in court. Immediately after the broadcast of ‘Cloth’ after all, he had already been given notice of default by Leko. There was no proposal from his side to immediately compensate the damage. Leko now puts his words into action. The next step is now the civil court. Veljkovic will be told what compensation his former team will demand against him.
Kris Luyckx, Veljkovic’s lawyer, reacts only briefly and forcefully to the news. “We are not really impressed with the quality of the summons”, it sounds dry.