Men's National Team

Official: Poland Cuts Ties with Paulo Sousa

Paulo Sousa is no longer the coach of the Poland national team / PZPN
Official: Poland Cuts Ties with Paulo Sousa

WARSAW, Poland. December 29 (PSN) – Paulo Sousa has officially parted ways with the Poland national team.

Cezary Kulesza, the president of the Polish Football Federation (PZPN), said on Wednesday that Sousa’s contract with the national team had been terminated, while Brazilian club Flamengo announcing the same day that it had hired the 51-year old Sousa on a two-year contract.

Marking a controversial exit, Kulesza said the PZPN board’s decision was unanimous and that Sousa will have to pay “compensation in line with the federation’s expectations.” The president did not specify the amount.

According to WP SportoweFakty, Sousa will have to pay approximately 430,000 euro (2 million zl), not 300-320,000 euro, as previously reported by Brazilian media. In addition, the Portuguese coach and his staff renounced their salaries for December (Sousa collected 70,000 euro a month, and his people collected twice as much).

Kulesza on Sunday accused Sousa, a former Portugal player, of “extremely irresponsible behavior” for unexpectedly seeking to leave his post after receiving an offer from the Brazilian club. Kulesza said at the time he had “firmly refused” the request from Sousa who had wanted to leave by mutual agreement.

“Today I was informed by Paulo Sousa that he wants to terminate the contract with the PZPN by mutual agreement because of an offer from another club. This is extremely irresponsible behavior, inconsistent with the coach’s earlier declarations. Therefore, I firmly refused.” Kulesza wrote on Twitter on Sunday.

Outrage then spurred throughout the country as Poles were both shell-shocked and confused by the Portuguese’s sudden decision to abandon the team at such short notice, especially with critically important games ahead of Poland in the coming months. At the same time, Sousa’s legal team were attempting to figure out a way to back-out of his commitment with Poland without paying a financial penalty.

By Wednesday, the matter was formally settled. Kulesza had scheduled an emergency meeting with the PZPN to determine what they will do with the Sousa situation. It ended as predicted, with the “release” of Sousa and compensation to be made for the PZPN. Lawyers for both sides also reached an agreement that the case would end there. Therefore, the PZPN would no longer report the incident to FIFA or the International Tribunal for Sport (CAS).

Sousa was originally hired as Poland coach in January 2021 but the team — captained by Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski — has underperformed under his leadership, finishing last in its group at the UEFA EURO 2020 in June.

Poland finished behind England in its qualifying group for next year’s FIFA World Cup in Qatar and will be in the playoffs in March, where they must first defeat Russia in an away fixture before tackling either Sweden or the Czech Republic in the playoff finals.

“Hi, Brazil!” Sousa said in a video published by Flamengo on its social media channels. “I have a lot of pride and satisfaction to represent a club with the incomparable greatness of Flamengo.”

Sousa will replace Renato Portaluppi, who was fired by the Rio de Janeiro club after its 2-1 Copa Libertadores final defeat against Palmeiras in November.

Meanwhile, the PZPN have started a search for a new candidate who will takeover the now vacant Poland job. The local names that have appeared thus far for the running are Michal Probierz, Marek Papszun, Adam Nawalka, Czeslaw Michniewicz and Marcin Brosz. Foreign candidates have also expressed their interest in the position, such as that of Jurgen Klinsmann and Dick Advocaat.

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