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Rediff.com  » Sports » Scolari pulls out of England job race

Scolari pulls out of England job race

April 29, 2006 10:32 IST

Portugal's Brazilian coach Luiz Felipe Scolari stunned the soccer world on Friday by withdrawing from the race to become England manager because of unbearable media intrusion.

In a news conference televised from Portugal's World Cup training site in Germany, Scolari said his plans would be open after July 31 when his contract with the Portuguese Football Federation runs out.

He said his decision was linked to his feelings for Portugal and the relentless media pressure since his name surfaced two days ago as the likely candidate to succeed Swede Sven-Goran Eriksson as England's manager.

"There are 20 reporters outside my house now," he said. "If that is part of another culture, it is not part of my culture. I am not the coach, and will not be (England's) coach.

"I don't want this situation involving England because in two days during which I was not coach, I never agreed to anything, life was invaded," Scolari said. "My privacy was totally under siege."

Scolari said the press had made "absurd comparisons" of him and his wife with Eriksson and the Swede's partner, and how they dressed. "That's not part of my life and its never going to be."

Turning to Portugal, he said: "I want to appeal to you at this moment, mainly those from Portugal, to tell you that we will continue together, let's go to the World Cup."

NO PRESSURE

England are looking to replace Eriksson, the country's first foreign manager, who will leave after the World Cup. Scolari's contract with Portugal expires after the finals in Germany.

"There was no kind of pressure, it was just his head that worked when he made the decision," said Portuguese Football Federation chairman Gilberto Madail in a statement.

"We are very happy, the permanence of Mr Scolari at the World Cup was never in question. What is in question is the future."

FA chief executive Brian Barwick travelled to Lisbon on Wednesday for a meeting with Scolari which the Brazilian later described as "a simple talk, informal and with the consent of the Portuguese Football Federation".

England's Football Association released only a brief comment, saying they knew Scolari would release a statement.

"We will now reflect on his announcement before making any further comment as we move forward with the process" of finding a new England manager," the FA said.

The 57-year-old Scolari, who led Brazil to a 2002 World Cup triumph and took Portugal to the Euro 2004 final, knocking out England on both occasions, had become a surprise front-runner.

"If the English federation was expecting him to reply now, just ahead of the World Cup, I think he did very well in turning it down," said Antonio Lopes, Scolari's assistant coach with Brazil at the last World Cup.

"He will be competing in the Cup for Portugal and there was no way he could be announced as England coach before then.

"It would have been very complicated for him in case there was a game where Portugal play England, which may well happen."

"It is not Felipe's manner to sign a contract with a new team while he is still thinking about another project," said Lopes, who was Corinthians coach until recently.

Scolari has built a reputation for a no-nonsense approach to the game and has had a prickly relationship with the press in his native Brazil and Portugal.

He even once punched a reporter in Brazil during the mid-1990s.

Attention now turns to who will get the England job after the World Cup finals with a number of English candidates returning to the fray after thinking their chance had gone.

Howard Wilkinson, chairman of the League Managers Association and a former caretaker England manager, led fresh calls for an Englishman to get the job.

"I think the three leading English candidates all have the ability and the potential to move into that job and do a good job," Wilkinson told Sky Sports News.

English favourite Steve McClaren of Middlesbrough, Charlton's Alan Curbishley and Bolton Wanderers's Sam Allardyce, along with Northern Irishman Martin O'Neill, were early favourites -- and will now return to centre stage.

Gordon Taylor, head of players' union the Professional Footballers Association, pressed the case for McClaren.

"Of all the candidates who are good, who are left, you have got Steve McClaren who is doing a good job with Middlesbrough and who is part of the England set up.

"If things go well in Germany, then it could be a seamless transition," Taylor said.

Media intrusion has frequently been a cause of complaint by Eriksson during his tenure and successive England managers, including 1966 World Cup-winner Alf Ramsey, have been given a torrid time by the British media.

(Additional reporting by Trevor Huggins in London and Pedro Fonseca in Rio de Janeiro)

Ian Simpson
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