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The Independent Online
Milutinovic sacked despite success

MEXICO

Mexico's coach, Bora Milutinovic, was sacked this week - just three weeks after he took his team to next year's World Cup finals in France.

His dismissal follows three weak performances by the Mexican team against opposition not considered top class, which brought widespread calls for him to go.

Juan Jose Leano, the chairman of the Mexican Football Federation, said the decision was taken unanimously by its national council after Milutinovic had submitted his report on the team's performances in the World Cup qualifiers.

Milutinovic took charge of the national squad in October 1995, having coached the United States and Costa Rica as well as Mexican club sides. Mexico's players were jeered off the pitch after sealing their World Cup finals place in less then flamboyant style against a 10-man United States side on 2 November - a game that ended goalless.

That substandard display was followed by others against Costa Rica and Jamaica. However, Milutinovic's supporters pointed to the fact that under his leadership Mexico won 23 out of 46 games and suffered only nine defeats. They said he was being made a scapegoat for the players' poor performances.

The new man in charge is Manuel Lapuente, the coach of the Mexico City- based club, Necaxa. He returns for a second spell, having been fired from the post in 1992.

GREECE

Claims have been made in the the Greek parliament that matches have been rigged in the national league, which has led to numerous recent outbreaks of violence.

"It is common belief among supporters that the championship and the team standings are not judged on the pitch but are cooked up in backstage deals," opposition MPs said in a statement. "Every Sunday fans witness appalling mistakes by the referees, which are not human mistakes."

The statement was made by 123 out of the Greek parliament's 300 deputies, who claimed that violence was a frequent occurrence during rigged games. A government spokesman, Dimitris Reppas, has dismissed the allegations.

Suppoprters clashed in three games last weekend. At Ionikos, where Olympiakos won 1-0, angry fans stormed the pitch, clashing with players and police. Live television pictures showed fans punching players in the face and hitting them with iron bars.

argentina

Argentina's coach, Daniel Passarella, known as a strict disciplinarian, caused a surprise this week when he said the team's players could have sex with their wives during next year's World Cup.

Passarella, who has banned the wearing of ear-rings and refuses to pick long-haired players, said the only condition was that sex did not take place in the team hotel.

"We will impose some limits and, of course, we will not permit it in the team's hotel, but there will be no objections if they rent a house or look for somewhere else to do it," he said. "I believe it will be healthy."

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