Portugal fires Carlos Queiroz as national coach
Carlos Queiroz was fired Thursday as coach of the Portugal national team due to poor performances and his involvement in off-pitch incidents which have earned him a six-month suspension.
The Portuguese Football Federation said in a statement that ''given recent events, and after analyzing the national coach's current situation,'' it had decided to terminate his employment with immediate effect, two years before the end of his contract.
The federation would immediately begin looking for someone to replace him, the statement said, but it offered no clues about potential candidates.
Neither federation officials nor Queiroz were immediately available for comment.
The decision was widely expected. Queiroz has been at the center of a storm in recent months because of Portugal's disappointing displays and his role in a scandal over a doping test.
Portugal has collected just one point from its first two 2012 European Championship qualifiers. A 1-0 loss at Norway on Tuesday came after a 4-4 draw at home against lowly Cyprus last week, constituting Portugal's worst start to a qualifying campaign since 1996.
The team, missing injured Cristiano Ronaldo, looked unsettled and uncertain in both matches. With Deco and Simao Sabrosa having both recently retired from international football, the Portuguese team lacks an inspirational playmaker.
Queiroz missed those matches as he sat out a six-month suspension after authorities ruled he had disrupted an anti-doping test before the World Cup. The federation also suspended him for one month for misconduct in a charge related to the same incident.
He has denied any wrongdoing and is appealing against the six-month ban.
Queiroz leaves with Portugal having won 15 matches, losing three and drawing eight since he took over in 2008.
The 57-year-old coach, who previously was Alex Ferguson's assistant at Manchester United for five years, has long been criticized.
Portugal's qualification campaign for the World Cup was rocky with three 0-0 draws, including at home against 10-man Albania, and the team had to advance through the playoffs.
In a disappointing campaign in South Africa, third-ranked Portugal went out in the second round against eventual champion Spain.
Queiroz has been unfavorably compared to his predecessor Luiz Felipe Scolari. The Brazilian steered Portugal to the final of the 2004 European Championship and the semifinals of the 2006 World Cup.
Queiroz's three-decade coaching career has also included stints at teams in the United States, Japan and United Arab Emirates.