Embattled China women's soccer coach Ma Liangxing has refused to resign.
Ma was asked to step down, but said he'd rather be fired, the Web portal Sina Sports reported on Monday. He has been away from the team for several months, reported to be suffering from heart problems.
In the meantime, the team has slumped to a low ebb, losing all four games earlier this month in the Algarve Cup. The final loss was 4-1 to tiny Iceland.
Assistant coach Wang Haiming has been handling the team in the absence of Ma. Former Swedish national soccer team coach Marika Domanski-Lyfors is reportedly a leading candidate to take over.
Earlier this month, well-traveled German coach Eckhard Krautzun stepped down as an adviser to the team. He was considered a candidate to take the top job, reports AP.
China will host the women's World Cup in September and will be under pressure to perform. The World Cup is the last major sporting event prior to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and China was once considered among the favorites with Germany, Sweden, Norway, North Korea, Brazil and the United States.
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969