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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 18 August 2018

Former Japan coach Vahid Halilhodzic sues JFA over 'brutal' dismissal - for one yen

Bosnian-Herzegovinian coach was sacked two months before the start of the 2018 World Cup

Vahid Halilhodzic took over the Japan national team in March 2015 and was sacked in April this year. Eugene Hoshiko / AP Photo
Vahid Halilhodzic took over the Japan national team in March 2015 and was sacked in April this year. Eugene Hoshiko / AP Photo

Lawyers for sacked Japan football manager Vahid Halilhodzic filed a legal claim against his former employers on Thursday claiming "damage to reputation and honour" and seeking compensation - of one yen (Dh0.034).

Halilhodzic was dismissed by the Japan Football Association (JFA) last month, prompting an angry backlash from his legal team, who slammed the decision as a "brutal" case of wrongful dismissal.

Attorney Lionel Vincent has demanded an explanation and apology, accusing JFA president Kozo Tashima of summarily firing the former Algeria coach - just two months before the World Cup - without consulting board members.

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"It's not about money for Vahid," Vincent told AFP. "He got Japan to the World Cup and he doesn't want to be the black sheep who looks stupid. He's deeply hurt and feels betrayed.

"President Tashima acted in violation of the JFA's governance rules, so we are seeking a formal apology."

But rather than seek a big payout, Halilhodzic's lawsuit calls for compensation of a symbolic one yen.

Halilhodzic, who was appointed Japan coach in March 2015, was sacked after a string of lacklustre performances, with the JFA appointing former technical director Akira Nishino as his replacement.

"I had no choice but to instruct my lawyers to go to court after the unacceptable comments by President Tashima," Halilhodzic said in a written statement.

"It is not just my honour that is at stake but my more than three years of work with the players and fans that was tarnished."

The legal wrangling will do little to help Japan's preparations just weeks before the start of the World Cup in Russia.

Halilhodzic flew back to Tokyo to hold an emotional press conference following his dismissal, blasting Tashima for a "lack of respect".

In an interview with AFP at the time, the 66-year-old said: "I don't want to leave the country as a mess, as an incompetent."

Tashima had blamed the sudden sacking on a breakdown in communication between Halilhodzic and key players, a charge the former coach angrily rejected.

Despite that denial, however, forward Keisuke Honda - thought to be one of the players at loggerheads with the coach - subsequently criticised Halilhodzic's style of play in an interview with local media.

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