Another England soap opera as Fabio Capello quits

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LONDON (AP) - The soap opera of English soccer reached yet another a noisy climax Wednesday when national team coach Fabio Capello quit angrily just eight hours after potential successor Harry Redknapp was cleared in a London court of tax evasion charges.

Only four months before the European Championship, Capello’s employers stripped John Terry of the England captaincy over racism charges without consulting the manager _ and as a result now finds itself seeking a new team leader.

The career of Redknapp, a hugely popular Londoner who is currently manages the Premier League team Tottenham, had been on hold until the end of his trial.

But in a coincidence of timings, Redknapp was cleared by a jury on Wednesday and installed as favorite to assume one of the most high-profile jobs in international soccer following Capello’s sudden exit.

The headline in The Times seemed to sum up the day: “Harry walks, Fabio runs.”

Capello, a 65-year-old urbane Italian, had enjoyed some success in the England job but had never won the affections of a soccer-mad public hungry for the nation’s first major title since 1966.

Now he has walked out on the $9 million-a-year job, dismayed at being publicly undermined by the English Football Association’s decision to fire Terry against his wishes last week despite the defender facing a criminal trial on racism charges.

Such a public spat with his employers made the Capello’s position untenable. He quit during an hourlong meeting with FA officials that focused on Capello’s TV outburst.

“We have accepted Fabio’s resignation, agreeing this is the right decision,” FA Chairman David Bernstein said. “We would like to thank Fabio for his work with the England team and wish him every success in the future.”

Bernstein does not have to rush into a replacing Capello. And it seems certain that the next manager will not be another foreigner after four years of a coach who spoke halting English.

At least, an English coach would already be accustomed to the drama surrounding the national team.

Terry was restored as England captain 11 months ago despite Capello dramatically dropping the defender from the honor before the 2010 World Cup for allegedly having an affair with the ex-girlfriend of teammate Wayne Bridge, who subsequently quit the national team.

Off-field antics also caused a distraction four years in Germany.

The players’ wives and girlfriends _ the so-called WAGS _ dominated the headlines at the 2006 World Cup with their trips into the spa town of Baden-Baden, Germany, where the team was also based.

Although they were largely banned from the 2010 World Cup by the strict Capello, England endured a worse tournament _ getting routed 4-1 by Germany in the second round.

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