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Coaching moves are talk of Euro 2008

Spain, Italy and Austria are the clubs in the middle of the discussions about who is staying, who is going and who doesn't care.

June 24, 2008|Grahame L. Jones | Times Staff Writer

Spain wants Coach Luis Aragones to stay, but Aragones wants to leave.

Italy wants Coach Roberto Donadoni to leave, but Donadoni wants to stay.

Austria doesn't care what Coach Josef Hickersberger does, so Hickersberger has quit.

Coaches were all the news Monday, the first non-playing day in more than two weeks at soccer's European Championship. The tournament resumes with the semifinals Wednesday and Thursday.

The Spanish are one of the four remaining teams -- along with Russia, Turkey and Germany -- but their 69-year-old coach said that, win or lose, he would be stepping down after Sunday's final in Vienna.

"I thank all of those people who have addressed words of encouragement or compliments," Aragones said, "but . . . this adventure is ending for me, whatever happens to Spain here.

"We have created a great group with a great atmosphere. But I'm not going to get involved in whether they should offer me another contract or not. It is over and that is it."

For Donadoni, the picture is less clear. He had breakfast Monday with Giancarlo Abete, president of the Italian soccer federation, but revealed little of what was said.

Asked whether he would resign in the wake of Italy's elimination Sunday, Donadoni rejected the idea.

"Resign? The thought would never even enter the antechamber of my brain," the 44-year-old coach said.

"It's not because of a missed penalty that I'm going to change my opinion of our European Championship, that would be stupid," he said, referring to Italy's ouster by Spain on penalty kicks.

"With respect to those who should decide, I'm not going to try to sway them. My record speaks for itself. I'm not going to try to talk it up."

Hickersberger, meanwhile, made a preemptive strike, stepping down on the day before his fate was to be decided by the Austrian soccer federation.

"I am stopping. . . . I feel empty and tired. I need to take a break and recharge the batteries," he told Austria's Der Standard newspaper. "The chapter is closed. My mission has been accomplished. I have reflected long and hard."

Always good for a quote, Hickersberger, 60, then delivered one of the best of the tournament in a broadside at referees. "They treat us like circus bears," he said. "I don't want to be a circus bear anymore."

Austria, the lowest-ranked team in the tournament, failed to win a game, and Hickersberger, along with Germany Coach Joachim "Jogi" Loew were ejected from the Austria-Germany game for arguing with the fourth official.

In one other development Monday, Italian referee Roberto Rosetti was selected to take charge of Sunday's final.

--

grahame.jones@latimes.com

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