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Belgian FA confirms contract extension for Roberto Martinez

Last updated 1 month ago | By Reuters

In this photo taken on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019, Belgium's coach Roberto Martinez smiles prior to the Euro 2020 group I qualifying soccer match between Belgium and San Marino at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels. Martinez has signed a new contract to lead the Red Devils through the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

Belgian coach Roberto Martinez’s contract has been extended, officials confirmed on Wednesday, more than a fortnight after it was first reported.

Martinez will stay until the end of the 2022 World Cup and will also act as the technical director of the Belgian Football Association, it said in a statement.

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“Talk about a renewal of the current contract of the national manager, which ends on June 30, has been going on for some time and each time in a particularly constructive atmosphere,” it said.

“The coronavirus crisis delayed the process somewhat, but the contract extension is now confirmed and official.

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“This allows Roberto Martinez to continue his work, lay the foundation for the future of Belgian football and train his successor to take over after the 2022 World Cup.”

Martinez, whose contract was up after this year’s European Championship, which has been shifted back a year because of the coronavirus crisis, told a later news conference he still had unfinished business with the team.

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“It was not the time to end the relationship. I felt I needed to carry on,” he said.

Part of this was informed by the postponement of the European Championship where Belgium are among the favourites.

“That was one of the reasons to stay but not the only reason.

“The next two and a half years will be very intense for our national team, with the European Championship, Nations League, 2020 World Cup qualifying matches and the World Cup in Qatar itself.”

Martinez, 46, admitted approaches from clubs during his tenure with Belgium but said turning them down had been easy.

“In those moments (when approached), you have to look at what you have to work with. This Belgian Red Devils team is very, very special and we want to build something for the future. I believe immensely in our group of players,” he said.

Belgium, who are top of the FIFA world rankings, are drawn in Group B for next year’s Euro tournament and will play Denmark, Finland and Russia. They qualified in imposing fashion, by winning all 10 matches, scoring 40 goals and conceding only three.

Spanish-born Martinez, the former Wigan Athletic and Everton manager, took Belgium to third place at the World Cup in Russia two years ago.

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