Okano gags JFA colleagues

By Jeremy Walker
 TOKYO (May 3)--The president of the Japan Football Association, Shun-ichiro Okano, has banned his colleagues from commenting on the future of national coach Philippe Troussier.
 The move follows a series of sensational media reports claiming that Troussier will be dismissed when the JFA executive board meets on May 25.

 Okano described the situation as "chaos" and, on Tuesday, wrote to his three vice-presidents, secretary-general and committee members instructing them to keep their comments within the confines of the JFA.
 "We have to have leadership in this issue because it is very, very important for us to build up a good team for the 2002 World Cup. That is our main purpose and our responsibility," said Okano.
 "We have to unite and show our solidarity."
In order to achieve this goal, Okano felt it necessary to issue a warning to his colleagues.
 "I have told them that this matter must be discussed among FA people first and that we should not speak to people from outside the JFA," he added.
 "If some official has any opinion, we should discuss it at length among ourselves, otherwise many rumours are flying in Japan. Everything is now going into chaos and this is not good for the FA."

 After Japan's 1-0 defeat in Seoul last week, the highly respected Asahi Shimbun said Troussier would be sacked and fellow Frenchman Arsene Wenger would replace him in July 2001, a year before the next World Cup. The JFA would appoint a caretaker manager to bridge the gap, the report said.
 Other papers, claiming to be quoting informed inside sources, said the decision had been made to dismiss Troussier.
 But Okano insisted no decision had been made.
 "There are many Japanese sports newspapers saying what will happen, but, as president of the FA, at the moment I cannot say anything about it," he said.
 "I can only say that we are waiting for the report from the technical committee (on Troussier's future) and then we will discuss it and the executive board will decide (on May 25).
 "We have not received any report and I do not know when I will receive the report."