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World Cup: Politics soured Eriksson on Mexico

May 21, 2010 |  2:08 pm

It's unlikely Mexico and the Ivory Coast will meet in this summer's World Cup. But there appears to be a rivalry building between the two -- or at least between the coach of one and the federation managing the other.

WorldCuplogo Sven-Goran Eriksson, who was fired as coach of the Mexican team last year after just three World Cup qualifying matches, told Reuters he was never the man Mexico wanted and he knew he was on the way out when Javier Aguirre lost his job coaching Spain's Atletico Madrid.

Aguirre was eventually named to replace Eriksson last April.

"They always wanted Aguirre before they appointed me and they told me that," said Eriksson, now coach of the Ivory Coast team, which will also be playing in South Africa next month. "And in Mexican [soccer], the board of the federation consists of the owners of the first division [soccer] club and that makes it a little bit more complicated. I had half of them against me before I even started."

In each of the last two World Cups the Swedish-born Eriksson -- the first foreign coach of the English national team -- took England to the quarterfinals, a spot Mexico has reached just twice in its history. Both of Eriksson's last two teams meet Monday at Wembley Stadium in London when Mexico visits for a friendly.

Eriksson did learn something from his short Mexican adventure, he said.

"It's a lot of politics," he told Reuters. "What I learned is don't take a job where politics are that important."

-- Kevin Baxter