Fired coach Halilhodzic sues Japanese soccer association

FILE - In this April 27, 2018, file photo, former Japanese national soccer coach Vahid Halilhodzic speaks during his press conference in Tokyo. Halilhodzic filed a suit on Thursday, May 24, 2018, in Tokyo against the Japan Football Association, saying the dismissal damaged his honor and reputation.(AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)

TOKYO — Former Japan coach Vahid Halilhodzic filed a suit Thursday in Tokyo district court against the Japanese soccer association, saying his firing damaged his honor and reputation.

The Bosnian is asking for a written apology from JFA president Kozo Tashima and compensation of 1 yen — about 1 cent.

Halilhodzic was fired on April 7, two months before the World Cup in Russia, despite leading Japan to a berth in the tournament.

It will be Japan's sixth straight appearance in the World Cup.

"This is about defamation," Lionel Vincent, the lawyer for Halilhodzic, told The Associated Press. "It's all about getting his honor back and you can't put a price on that."

Vincent said any apology would be published online and in newspapers. He declined to speculate how long a ruling might take.

Halilhodzic contends he was unjustly fired and says the JFA did not follow its own rules in dismissing him. For its part, the JFA says he was fired because of a "lack of communication."

The JFA replaced Halilhodzic with Japanese coach Akira Hishino.

Japan plays in Colombia, Poland and Senegal in Group H in Russia.

Speaking to reporters a few weeks ago, Halilhodzic acknowledged he could be stern with players but said if anyone was guilty of a lack of communication, it was the JFA.

Halilhodzic was hired in 2015 after taking Algeria to the last 16 at the 2014 World Cup. That team lost to eventual champion Germany in extra time.

The Bosnian was fired following a pair of disappointing friendlies — a lackluster 1-1 draw with Mali and a 2-1 loss to Ukraine.

Halilhodzic said those matches were used to look at younger players, and results were secondary.

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