Brazil coach Scolari faces tax probe on eve of World Cup
Manager under investigation over his time in charge of the Portugal national team
BRAZIL football coach Luis Felipe Scolari is facing tax evasion charges in Portugal, a month before the World Cup begins.
The claims relate to Scolari's five years in charge of the Portuguese national team between 2003 and 2008. Reports in Brazil say that the 65-year-old former Chelsea boss is being investigated over £5.7m of unreported income and could end up facing court.
However, Scolari, who led Brazil to the World Cup in 2002 and is under tremendous pressure to repeat the feat this summer, has denied any wrongdoing.
In a statement issued by the Brazilian FA he said: "I have correctly filed all my tax returns. In all the countries where I've worked, I've always declared my income. If anything is wrong, it's not my fault."
The news is an "unwelcome distraction" for the tournament hosts, says The Times. "Brazil's build-up to the World Cup has already been steeped in controversy," says the paper, with deaths and delays in the construction of the venues and other infrastructure.
The sums of money involved also emphasise the gulf between rich and poor in Brazil, and the paper points out there have been "mass demonstrations throughout the country, highlighting the disparity between a billion-dollar tournament and widespread poverty of the local populace".
The claims are more than a nuisance, and represent a "massive blow" to Brazil's preparations for the tournament, says the Daily Telegraph.
The BBC says that the allegations relate to income for image rights that was transferred to an account in Miami. "Investigators in Portugal are reported to have asked for information about who the people involved in the transactions are," it says.
Last week Scolari announced his 23-man squad for next month's tournament, and his selections were generally well received even though he left out some established stars including Ronaldinho, Kaka and Robinho and did not pick any players from the top nine clubs in the Brazilian league.
The Telegraph noted at the time that the coach has plenty of "brownie points" to his name, having led Brazil to the Confederations Cup last summer.