Fired coach Halilhodzic suing Japanese soccer association

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TOKYO (AP) Vahid Halilhodzic is suing the Japanese soccer association and its president after he was fired as national coach only two months before the World Cup.

Lionel Vincent, the lawyer representing Halilhodzic, told The Associated Press on Monday that the suit asks for an apology from association president Kozo Tashima and indemnification of 1 Japanese yen – less than 1 cent.

Vincent said Halilhodzic feels betrayed and hurt by the dismissal. He said the suit would be filed Thursday in a Tokyo district court.

”We’re doing this for honor, and there’s no price for honor,” Vincent said.

Halilhodzic was fired on April 7 and replaced by Japanese coach Akira Nishino. The JFA said Halilhodzic was fired for a ”lack of communication.”

”The reason why he was dismissed is not clear for us,” Vincent said. ”When you say there was a lack of communication, what does that mean?”

Speaking to reporters a few weeks ago, Halilhodzic acknowledged he could be stern with players. But he said if anyone was guilty of a lack of communication, it was the JFA.

Vincent said the JFA had been notified about the lawsuit.

In an email to the AP on Monday, the JFA said it had ”no information on any legal action.”

The JFA has said previously it is not obligated to explain the firing.

Vincent said the firing had damaged Halilhodzic’s reputation, and suggested that Tashima acted arbitrarily and did not follow rules set up by his own organization.

”We’re dealing here with a big organization,” Vincent said. ”So it’s quite surprising to see the president doing things on his own without any respect for the rules he’s supposed to protect. The JFA should have the honestly to say – maybe there were some issues and what they were.”

Halilhodzic was hired in 2015 after taking Algeria to the last 16 at the 2014 World Cup. That team lost to eventual champion Germany in extra time.

The Bosnian guided Japan through World Cup qualifying, but was fired following a pair of disappointing friendlies – a lackluster 1-1 draw with Mali and a 2-1 loss to Ukraine.

None of this is likely to help Japan when it opens play in the World Cup in Russia next month. Japan plays in Group H with Colombia, Senegal and Poland.

Japan is playing in its sixth consecutive World Cup, but has reached the knock-out stage only twice. It reached the last 16 in 2002 under French coach Philippe Troussier, and again in 2010 under Japanese coach Takeshi Okada.

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