The Chinese Football Association confirmed on Monday that Spaniard Jose Antonio Camacho has been fired as coach of the national soccer team.
Camacho, who was hired in August 2011, has faced harsh criticism amid a string of losses for the national side, including a embarrassing 5-1 home rout in a friendly against Thailand.
Media accounts said the coach was dismissed last Friday.
Camacho's contract calls for him to receive a payoff of roughly 5.5 million euros ($7.2 million) if he is fired before the end of what was supposed to be a three-year term as coach.
But the CFA told the Spaniard it can only pay him 3 million euros, New Beijing newspaper said Monday, predicting protracted negotiations over the final settlement.
Chinese soccer fans have had little to cheer about during Camacho's nearly two years at the helm of the national squad.
Besides failing to qualify for the 2014 World Cup, the team has plummeted 30 spots in the global rankings and suffered its worst-ever defeat: an 8-0 pasting by Brazil.
Analysts point out that Chinese soccer is plagued by the lack of young prospects and has been hurt by a series of match-fixing scandals.
Recently retired star David Beckham, who works as a goodwill ambassador for the CFA, happens to be in China at the moment and came out in defense of Camacho in an interview with state television, describing the Spanish coach as "very professional and capable." EFE