Under-fire Poland chief refuses to stand down after Euro 2012 exit
Defends decision to stay on despite player discontent and co-hosts' poor showing
Wednesday 20 June 2012
The president of the Polish Football Association will not step down despite Poland's failure to reach its minimum goal of advancing to the European Championship quarter-finals, although the coach, Franciszek Smuda, will not continue in the role.
Grzegorz Lato has come under pressure following the Euro 2012 co‑hosts' last-place finish in Group A. Poland drew their first two matches with Greece and Russia, both 1-1, before losing to the Czech Republic 1-0 last Saturday, to be knocked out of the tournament. Lato said yesterday that elections for the association's leadership are scheduled for the end of October and that he sees no reason to resign. He said he would decide whether to run for another term before 5 July.
"We as the federation did everything in our power so that the national team could prepare well for the tournament," Lato said.
"None of our national teams in the past have enjoyed the conditions, which everyone saw, the fantastic conditions that we arranged for them. I see no reason to resign because Poland were knocked out."
Following the team's elimination, Lato confirmed that Smuda's contract ran to 31 August and would not be extended.
"A different coach will be in charge for the next matches," Lato said. "The federation has already received various proposals about the coaching position, from around the world, including Europe and even Brazil."
Poland will open their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign on 7 September away to Montenegro, which puts a time frame on hiring Smuda's replacement. With that in mind, Lato said the federation would make a "quick but reasonable" decision on a new coach.
Lato also sought to defuse a clash with the national team captain, Jakub Blaszczykowski, who after the loss to the Czech Republic complained that the players hadn't known until right before the match kicked off whether they would have tickets for their families or not.
"It can't be that before every match we have to ask the president whether or not our families can come to the match or not, whether we'll have tickets for them or not," Blaszczykowski said. "The president says in an interview that he has a great relationship with the team. Personally, I haven't noticed that."
Lato dismissed Blaszczykowski's remarks, saying that each player received "on average between eight and 10 tickets per match".
"I'm not mad at him because I understand that he was speaking when he was upset directly after having lost a match," Lato added.
The Denmark international Daniel Agger, meanwhile, whose Euro 2012 interest was ended on Sunday after his country were eliminated, is open to the offer of a new contract at Liverpool and admits that he is keen to meet Brendan Rodgers after being impressed with the new manager's results while with Swansea City.
"It's no secret that I'm happy to be in Liverpool. Otherwise, I would not have been there for six years," he said. "I have not [discussed a new contract] but if they come with an offer I will surely sit down and talk with them.
"It's not something that is urgent, for I have contract until 2014, but if they ask I will listen. I am looking forward to meeting the new coach. I've seen what he has done at Swansea, and it has been impressive."
Reading are one of several English clubs in talks with another player whose interest in Euro 2012 is now over, the Russia striker Pavel Pogrebnyak.
The 28-year-old spend the second half of last season on loan at Fulham from German side Stuttgart, scoring six goals in 12 appearances. Pogrebnyak is out of contract this summer, and it has been reported that newly-promoted Reading are poised to sign him up on a four-year deal worth around £65,000 a week, after the striker turned down an offer from the Cottagers.
However, Pogrebnyak's agent, Oleg Artemov, said nothing was decided. Artemov said: "We are not just holding talks with Reading. There are other English clubs. I think that a final decision will be taken in a week's time."
Pogrebnyak made just one appearance at Euro 2012, coming on as a substitute against Greece as Russia lost their final group game and went out.
Backed by new Russian owner Anton Zingarevich, Royals boss Brian McDermott has been keen to bolster his squad on the return to the Barclays Premier League, signing former Nottingham Forest winger Garath McCleary on a free contract.
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