BEIJING (AP) — Fired national coach Jose Camacho has taken his compensation dispute with the Chinese Football Association to FIFA, the latest move in a developing scandal that has reignited public anger at mismanagement by the government bureaucrats overseeing the sport in China.
FIFA confirmed on Friday it received a claim from the Spaniard, but said it could offer no details while the case was pending.
Chinese media reports said the claim was filed on Thursday after negotiations broke down.
Such cases can take years for FIFA's dispute resolution chamber to resolve, and it was unclear what arguments the sides intend to make.
Camacho was fired last month following a 5-1 loss to Thailand. He'd been hired by the government-controlled football association in 2011 at an annual salary reported to be as high as $8 million, becoming the latest in a string of foreign coaches to shoulder perennial underperformer China's hopes of climbing the world rankings.
Chinese reports said Camacho wants the association to pay his salary for the 18 months remaining on his contract, along with his hefty Chinese income tax bill.
The Beijing Times newspaper quoted an unidentified association official as saying they would fight the suit. It said the association has offered to pay only part of Camacho's remaining salary and refuses to pick up his tax bill that could add another $4 million to the total.
"We're not quite clear on this matter, but we'll respect whatever Camacho's team decides to do. If he wants to take it to FIFA, then the CFA can only do its best to respond to this suit," the official was quoted as saying. "From the start we were negotiating in good faith, but the other side did not see it that way."
Calls to association officials rang unanswered on Friday and Camacho's lawyers were traveling and unavailable for comment.
No replacement has been announced for Camacho, who was reported by Spanish newspaper La Opinion de Murcia to still be in China for tax reasons. The paper said Spanish second-division side Real Murcia has expressed an interest in hiring him.
The dispute highlights sporting powerhouse China's frustrations over its inability to make the ranks of elite football, as well as complaints over corruption, incompetence, and mismanagement.
Camacho failed to qualify China for next year's World Cup, winning just seven of his 20 games while losing 11.
China is a dismal 100th in the world rankings, behind Oman, Georgia, and the French territory of New Caledonia.
That poor performance stands in stark contrast to China's dominant showings at the Olympics, where it topped the gold medal table for the first time in 2008.
Chinese fans have long blamed the association for Chinese football's failures, and the English-language China Daily newspaper called anew on Friday for the sacking of officials over the Camacho "fiasco."
But it said even more radical steps were needed to end government meddling in football and the waste of public funds by the association, which acts as both management and oversight body and is notorious for secretive and bureaucratic ways.
"No one seems to be sure when and how the CFA will undergo reforms. But the authorities should start the process by making it accountable to the people and prevent it from wasting more taxpayers' money," the paper said.
AP Sports Writer Graham Dunbar contributed to this report from Geneva.