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Sacked Clemente bemoans 'media campaign'

MADRID, July 7 (Reuters) - Former Spain coach Javier Clemente said he was sacked by Athletic Bilbao because president Fernando Lamikiz gave in to a media campaign.

'Lamikiz told the media his decision could be seen as unfair but a more colloquial way of saying it would be that he gave in to media pressure,' Clemente told a news conference on Friday.

'Lamikiz has been swayed by what he read in some newspapers. He is directly responsible for my dismissal because I had a good relationship with the rest of the board.'

Clemente was sacked on Thursday after he publicly criticised Bilbao's recruitment policy, saying the club had not signed the players he wanted.

Lamikiz said he had explained his decision to Clemente and the recruitment criticism was only one of a number of reasons why the coach was dismissed.

Clemente continued to speak out against the club president on Friday.

'He likes to dominate his coaches. He couldn't manage me,' said Clemente.

'Bilbao cannot afford to be a president's plaything.'

Clemente also denied Lamikiz's assertion he did not get on with his coaching staff.

'If that was the case I wouldn't have started the season as we did,' he said.

Clemente took charge of Bilbao for the third time last October when they were bottom of the Primera Liga.

The team eventually finished 12th, six points clear of the relegation zone.

In his first spell at the club, Clemente led Bilbao to the league title in 1983 and the league and Cup double the following season.

He had a six-year stint in charge of the national side, guiding Spain to the quarter-finals of the 1994 World Cup and the 1996 European Championship.

Spanish media reported that former Espanyol and Celta Vigo coach Miguel Angel Lotina was the favourite to take over at Bilbao.