RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazilian Paulo Autuori, who coached South American champion Sao Paulo to victory at the Club World Championship earlier this month in Japan, has confirmed he has accepted a new offer by J. League side Kashima Antlers, according to Brazilian media.
Kashima also confirmed the deal Friday.
Autuori had turned down the first proposal by Kashima on Monday, claiming it was more strategic for his career to keep working at the Brazilian club, for which he has reached a series of domestic and international triumphs.
The coach, however, told the local media on Wednesday afternoon that Antlers had changed their proposal, which the Brazilian media have classified as “millionaire.”
“I talked to Sao Paulo officials on Monday, showed them the Japanese proposal, and we decided to keep working on our plans for 2006. However, there has been a new contact from Japan, and the proposal became irrefutable,” the sports site Pele.net quoted the coach as saying.
Autuori, 49, said he only made up his mind about going to Japan after talking to his family and analyzing the pros and cons of the bid.
“The project Kashima Antlers officials have showed me has impressed me deeply,” Autuori said.
Clubs from Saudi Arabia and J. League champion Gamba Osaka were also in the hunt for Autuori, according to the local sports media.
Sao Paulo officials denied several times early on Wednesday that Autuori was about to leave the club and even rebuffed a Kyodo News report from Tokyo in which Kashima Antlers representatives said they had “reached a basic agreement” with Autuori.
“I have told him that he should not leave now because within a year’s time there will be several other clubs interested in him, but the financial proposal has been too much,” Sao Paulo vice chairman Juvenal Juvencio was quoted as saying.
Juvencio said on Wednesday morning that Autuori would maintain his word to remain on Sao Paulo, but the coach contacted the club’s officials in the afternoon to let them know of his new decision.
“He has told us in the meeting that this transfer is very important for him and added that his daughter is going to live in Japan with him. Soccer is full of surprises,” Juvencio said.
Brazilian soccer analysts have said that Autuori’s tactical strategies have been fundamental for the 1-0 win before Europeans champion Liverpool in Yokohama on Dec. 18 because the British team had performed well prior to and at the club competition.
Sao Paulo won 41 and drew 18 of the 79 matches they played in 2005 under Autuori.
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