Luiz Felipe Scolari has responded to reports suggesting he is under criminal investigation, saying, "if anything is wrong, it's not my fault."
The Brazilian coach—who recently named his squad for this summer's home-based World Cup—denied any wrongdoing during his first public statement since the news broke. Barry Hatton of the Associated Press, via the Republic, provides Scolari's quotes:
"I have correctly filed all my tax returns," said the man who led Brazil to World Cup success during the 2002 tournament. "In all the countries where I've worked, I've always declared my income. If anything is wrong, it's not my fault. I hope justice gets to the bottom of the facts."
As reported by BBC News, Scolari's investigation is "believed" to centre on the 2003-08 stint with the Portuguese national team. Hatton's article confirms "officials wouldn't say what the investigation is about," but unconfirmed reports are zoning in on tax-evasion claims.
Both Scolari's statement and the tweet of Sky News' Paul Kelso suggests this is likely:
Brasil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari the subject of criminal investigation in Portugal. Unconfirmed reports it concerns tax evasion allegations— Paul Kelso (@pkelso) May 14, 2014
Brazilian newspaper Folha de S.Paulo indicates the investigation comes after £5.7 million of unreported income is yet to be declared by Scolari, per David Kent of the Daily Mail.
Scolari, also known as Felipao, is under huge pressure to deliver World Cup glory in Brazil. The Samba Boys famously lost the 1950 final on their own turf and have failed to perform during the last two tournaments, creating an atmosphere of nervous expectation when this year's South American competition gets underway.
The 2002 victory remains Scolari's most famous moment. He also led Portugal to the runners-up spot at Euro 2004, which just so happened to take place in the Iberian country. Scolari also enjoyed success with Kuwait and has won trophies with clubs including Gremio, Palmeiras and Bunyodkor, with whom he captured the Uzbek league title.
Brazil's preparation threatens to be rocked by the claims of a criminal investigation. Scolari will have wanted no distractions heading into a World Cup that will see his every move scrutinised by the Brazilian public.
With just 29 days to go until kick-off, it seems Scolari is in for a bigger test than he ever imagined.