Soccer

Halilhodzic to sue JFA over sudden dismissal

Kyodo

Former Japan coach Vahid Halilhodzic is planning to sue the Japan Football Association, possibly later this month, in the hope of learning what led to his abrupt dismissal in April and restoring his honor, sources familiar with the matter said Friday.

The JFA terminated its contract with the 65-year-old from Bosnia-Herzegovina, who had led the team for three years, on April 7 — just two months before the World Cup finals in Russia — citing a lack of confidence among the squad members.

“I really didn’t see it coming, and I still don’t understand how it happened,” Halilhodzic said during a news conference in Tokyo in late April.

He will not seek financial compensation from the association, but is considering taking the case to an arbitrary body under FIFA, according to the sources.

The fired coach has already questioned, through a letter, the decision-making procedure at the JFA as chairman Kozo Tashima, not its executive body, decided to fire him. A meeting between Halilhodzic’s lawyer and the association ended fruitless.

On April 9, Tashima told a news conference in Tokyo that the association would replace Halilhodzic with JFA technical director Akira Nishino, saying Halilhodzic “lacked communication with and the trust of the players” and it was a “consensus decision.”

Halilhodzic denied the claim, saying he had “no problem” communicating with the players throughout the years.

Halilhodzic took the job in March 2015 and guided the Samurai Blue to 21 wins, nine draws and eight losses, including friendlies. But pressure mounted after the team could only manage a 1-1 draw with Mali and a 2-1 loss to Ukraine in Belgium in March, with neither opponent bound for Russia.