Cape Town City among a number of international clubs duped by a fake footballer

28 November 2019 - 15:08 By Mark Gleeson
There are question marks whether Bernio Verhagen is a real footballer or not.
There are question marks whether Bernio Verhagen is a real footballer or not.
Image: Cape Town City/Twitter

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 club that signed the conman‚ 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 spokesman Julian Bailey‚ signed the supposed right winger 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‚ although 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' 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 South Africa where owners and chairman 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 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.

The story with Danes is much the same as that of Comitis‚ signing the player after being approached by agents claiming to be from the Stellar Group.

“VFF has received forged documents‚ emails and calls from people who claimed to be real agents in the Stellar Group‚” Viborg said in a statement.

“It was never intended for Bernio Verhagen to be part of the first team‚ but that the agreement was concluded solely to strengthen the relationship with the agent company.”

Verhagen’s signing was allegedly supported by letters of recommendations‚ including one from Ajax Amsterdam’s technical director Mark Overmars.

“Viborg feels it has fallen victim to a scam that is likely to involve more people in several countries.”

Verhagen was presumably free to go after the complaint against him was lodged with the police on Sunday because he was arrested then after an alleged robbery on Tuesday.

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