Sat, Dec 01, 2012 - Page 18 News List

Brazil coach Scolari in hot water over banking remark

Reuters, RIO DE JANEIRO

Brazil international soccer team coach Luiz Felipe Scolari answers questions at a press conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Thursday.

Photo: AFP

Luiz Felipe Scolari ran into his first controversy only hours after taking over as Brazil coach on Thursday by saying that players who could not handle pressure should “work for the Banco do Brasil.”

Banco do Brasil SA, the nation’s largest bank by assets, described the remark as “unfortunate,” while the National Confederation of Financial Industry Workers said its members had been “disrespected.”

“The Banco do Brasil, along with all the Brazilian people, wishes good luck to Luiz Felipe Scolari in his new challenge as coach of the Brazil national team,” the bank said in a statement. “However, the Banco do Brasil regrets the unfortunate comment ... and states that it is proud of counting on 116,000 workers who wear the colors of the bank, with the colors of Brazil, every day, and work with dedication and commitment to look after the needs of our customers and clients. For the BB family, planning, respect and organization are the secrets for a strategy of success.”

The confederation “repudiated” Scolari’s comments.

“Felipao [‘Big Phil’] not only disrespected bank workers, but also showed a complete lack of knowledge about the reality of work in the financial system,” it said.

It said that about 1,200 workers a month had to take time off work for health reasons due to the pressure on them to obtain results and targets which were often unrealistic.

“We hope he is not as out of touch with football as he is about the working situation in the banks,” it added.

Scolari made his comment after being asked about the pressures of leading Brazil in a World Cup on home soil, where nothing less than winning the trophy in 2014 will be considered satisfactory.

“If you don’t like pressure, it’s better to go and work in the Banco do Brasil, or outside on the corner, or sit in an office and do nothing,” he told a press conference.

Scolari is beginning a second stint as Brazil coach, having led his country to World Cup victory in 2002.

The bank later said that Scolari, who is one of their customers, had contacted them to apologize.

“He said he did not intend to offend the employees and had expressed himself badly,” it said.

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