Mexico sacks coach Miguel Herrera after alleged fight with journalist

The Mexico Football Federation voted on Tuesday to sack coach Miguel Herrera following an alleged incident that took place at Philadelphia International Airport.

The move comes just two days after Mexico won the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the nation's first major title since 2011.

Incoming federation president Decio de Maria explained the decision at a lengthy news conference.

"After listening to all my colleagues who are part of this federation, and reasoning I have made the decision to take Miguel Herrera out of the national team," De Maria said. "It is not a simple decision, but it is the correct one.

"Matches never finish, and as public figures we have to keep that in mind. Everyone has had an opinion but as I said, our values have to be kept and no one can be above the type of situation we saw on Monday at the Philadelphia airport."

Mexican television commentator Christian Martinoli on Monday accused Herrera of assaulting him in the TSA line at the airport, despite denials from airport officials that any such incident was captured on security cameras.

The incident allegedly occurred the morning after Mexico beat Jamaica 3-1 on Sunday to win the Gold Cup at Lincoln Financial Field.

TV Azteca's Martinoli, who has been one of Herrera's strongest critics, said the Mexico coach hit him in the neck with his fist before being separated by fellow commentator and former Mexico player Luis Garcia.

"I looked down to avoid any kind of provocation and suddenly feel a blow to the neck on the right side of my body. The next thing I see when I look up Luis Garcia is separating a madman who threw punches and kicks while I was insulted," said Martinoli, who added that he wasn't surprised by the emotional coach's reaction.

"Everyone will have his version of events,and he probably will deny it, I have no doubt," Martinoli added.

There was no comment from the coach on his firing, nor has he said anything publicly on the incident with the reporter.

Herrera became interim head coach in November 2013 and was given the job full-time a month later. During his tenure, Mexico won 18 matches, drew 11 and lost seven.

Critics faulted Mexico's performance at the Gold Cup, where it finished second in group play and advanced to the final only after winning two knockout-round matches with the help of late penalty kicks awarded in controversial calls.

"We all saw what happened on the pitch. ... We won at the Gold Cup, but none of us liked how it happened," De Maria said.

Philadelphia International Airport, via their official Twitter feed, said they did not have any knowledge of an incident in the TSA line involving Martinoli or Herrera.

A fan submitted video of Herrera in the airport line on Tuesday.

TV Azteca on Monday night demanded an investigation, sending a statement to the FMF as well as outgoing president Justino Compean and national teams chief Hector Gonzalez Inarritu:

"The behavior of the manager of the national team is strange to us and worries us enormously," the statement said. "The federation shouldn't allow attacks like that suffered by our partner Christian Martinoli at the hands of Mr. Herrera.

"Our country needs brave journalists, who are able to share their opinions and who enjoy the freedom of doing so without being attacked," the statement said. "Mexico needs more liberty, more public debate and less violence."

TV Azteca is owned by Grupo Salinas, which owns Liga MX clubs Atlas and Morelia as well as the television broadcast rights in Mexico to El Tri, along with Televisa. Decio de Maria will take over the reins at the federation for Compean beginning on Aug. 1 as federation power shifts hands.

De Maria said the federation would take its time in search of a replacement and did not announce a timeline or reveal any names. He also said he hoped to avoid having to name an interim coach.

"Regarding a coaching replacement, we have to go out and look for coaches," he said. "Whatever decision we take will be criticized and analyzed but we will make a decision that allows all of us to go to Russia in 2018."

Mexico next plays a pair of friendlies in September against Trinidad and Tobago and Argentina, followed by a crucial playoff against the United States on Oct. 9 that will decide which team goes to the 2017 Confederations Cup.