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Lippi accused of ‘slap in the face’ as China critics circle

Shanghai, China: Marcello Lippi was accused Friday of neglect and delivering "a slap in the face" amid grumblings that China's coach is not doing enough to justify one of the highest salaries in football management.

Former Everton midfielder Li Tie will temporarily take charge of China's national team at an East Asian championships next month in South Korea instead of the 71-year-old Italian World Cup winner.

Thursday's announcement by the Chinese Football Association was greeted with anger by sections of local media, which said that it had nevertheless been long known that Lippi had opted to remain home in Italy for the tournament.

"But this doesn't mean that this is not a problem," said a scathing commentary in the influential Oriental Sport Daily.

"However, shouldn't training the team be his job? Since he holds the salary of the position of the national football coach, he should do the work that the national football coach should do."

The former Juventus and Italy boss Lippi, who quit as China's coach in January only to return in May, reportedly earns 180 million yuan ($25 million) a year.

But suggesting that Lippi has little interest in the long-term development of Chinese football, Oriental Sport Daily added: "Lippi neglected his duties halfway.

"No matter whose face this slap lands on, one should follow up with a question — who gave Lippi the qualification and power to do this?"

Lippi is attempting to take China, ranked 69th in the FIFA world rankings, to only their second World Cup.

He has won 16 of his 36 matches in charge over two spells but his reign will be judged on whether he can get the world's most populous country to the Qatar 2022 World Cup.

Tencent Sports was equally unimpressed.

After a World Cup qualifier against Syria in mid-November, Lippi will return to Italy and spend Christmas there, Tencent said.

"The holiday may last for four months," said Tencent.

"Therefore it is no exaggeration for fans to say that Lippi's annual salary of 180 million yuan is too easy.

"Coaching the national football team carries huge pressure for any head coach, but it is almost impossible to see this in Lippi."

China are second behind Syria in their qualifying group following a 0-0 draw at the Philippines in their previous game.

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