Soccer

Scolari: Diego Costa shouldn't play for Spain

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SAO PAULO (AP)

Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari says Diego Costa shouldn't be allowed to play for Spain and refuses to give up his right to select the striker for Brazil's national team.

Scolari said in an interview aired by Globo TV on Sunday that he's the ''only one who can have a say about whether the athlete will be picked'' for Brazil ahead of next year's World Cup. The coach added it's his ''right to choose'' the player, not Spain's.

Scolari said Diego Costa shouldn't have the option to play for another country because he already played two friendly matches with Brazil this year.

The Brazilian-born player holds a Spanish passport and has never played an official match for Brazil, so FIFA would allow him to play for Spain.

''After playing two friendlies with Brazil like he did, he can't be playing for another national team,'' Scolari said.

The Atletico Madrid striker was summoned by Scolari for friendlies against Italy and Russia in March.

Diego Costa has already said that if called up by Spain he would be willing to play for the defending world champions.

But he may have a tough decision to make if Scolari adds his name to the Brazilian national team squad in less than two weeks, when the coach will announce his list for Brazil's friendlies against Honduras and Chile in November.

''You shouldn't take away my right to choose,'' Scolari said. ''I will do that (pick Diego Costa) whenever I think it should be done.''

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque said it's up to Diego Costa to decide if he wants to play for his adopted country or his native Brazil. He said ''we have done everything we need to, now it's the player's personal decision.'' Del Bosque admitted that even though the Spanish federation had ''reached an agreement'' with Diego Costa, ''it wasn't decisive.''

''I'm the only one who can have a say about whether the athlete will be picked'' for Brazil, Scolari said. ''Nobody else can know that.''

Diego Costa helped Atletico Madrid to a club record start of eight straight wins in the Spanish league, scoring 10 goals. The team fell to Espanyol on Saturday for its first loss.

Scolari said in his interview to Globo TV that only victory will be enough for Brazil at the World cup at home next year.

''Not only Brazil is the favorite, but it has the obligation to win the tournament,'' said the 64-year-old Scolari, who led Brazil to the 2002 world title. ''It's our only option. We know that nobody will accept anything less than that.''

Scolari led Brazil to the Confederations Cup title this year. The five-time world champions beat Spain 3-0 in the final of the World Cup warm-up tournament.

Brazil has won 10 of its last 11 matches, with the only setback a 1-0 loss to Switzerland after the Confederations Cup.

''If we keep doing things the way we have been doing things, it will be very difficult to beat us in the World Cup,'' Scolari said. ''We don't have the experience of other national teams, but we have speed and dynamism that few other teams have.''

The Brazilian coach said the top candidates for the World Cup title next year include Germany, Spain, Argentina, Colombia, England and the Netherlands.

''England, with Roy (Hodgson), is doing an excellent job setting up the team,'' Scolari said. ''The Netherlands has a good technical squad, and Colombia has one of its best teams in 40 or 50 years.''

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