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Jan 2, 2014

Petkovic 'still the coach of Lazio'

Vladimir Petkovic has said he believes he is still the Lazio coach even though Edy Reja has been taking training for the past few days.

Vladimir Petkovic has urged Lazio to push on, even if he believes a title challenge is beyond them
The statement says Petkovic wants to 'clarify this absurd misunderstanding.'

The Serie A club said they were awaiting Petkovic's response to allegations that he breached his contract by signing a deal to take charge of Switzerland from July. He has until the weekend to respond.

In the meantime, former coach Reja has been placed in charge of first-team affairs, although Petkovic has not officially been dismissed.

Reports late last month said Lazio were planning to sack and sue Petkovic, who has since made it clear he believes he is still the coach and has responsibility for the team.

"Straight after signing a contract [with the Swiss FA] on 23 December 2013, it became a moral obligation… and a clear intention to carry forward this project undertaken with Lazio to the end of the season, which is common practice for coaches and players whose contracts are expiring in the world of football," a statement released by Petkovic’s solicitor, Paco d'Onofrio, said.

"Throughout all of this, Petkovic has always respected the rules since he never wanted to create any problems with the club, to whom he will always be grateful for having believed in him and his players.

"Since he has yet to receive any kind of dismissal, the coach feels proud still to be the coach of Lazio and he is requesting a direct meeting with the president [Claudio] Lotito in order to clarify this absurd misunderstanding for the good of the fans, the players and above all of the club, who just a few months ago were celebrating, compact and united, the historic Coppa Italia triumph."

Lazio responded with a statement from their own solicitor, Gian Michele Gentile, underlining their position.

"All we can do is wait -- certainly his justification should not arrive at the club in the form of a press release,” the statement said. “We will only analyse it when we receive an official communication, and if this does not arrive within the predefined time frame, we will take immediate action as a consequence.

"We have sent him a letter and he has five days in which to respond. He could be dismissed for just cause, or he could receive lesser sanctions."

Reja, understood to have agreed a contract until 2015, but still awaiting the resolution of Petkovic's situation, will be calling the shots from the touchline on Monday.

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