Portugal chief defends expensive base

Portugal's preparations for Euro 2012 have been cost-effective and well-organised, the federation said Thursday as it replied to complaints that they had been too extravagant for the austerity-hit country.

Critics have complained that the team's base, a spa hotel in Opalenica near the Polish city of Poznan, is too expensive and there was also disquiet over some of the events in which the players took part before leaving Portugal.

These included a parade around the town of Obidos in horse-drawn carriages and a visit to a private biomedical research foundation in Lisbon.

"“We went by horse-drawn carriage, as in 2004, because it's difficult to travel through the streets of Obidos by car or coach, and as we know the players are always asked for autographs," federation vice-president Humberto Coelho told reporters.

“"It lasted 45 minutes, we bid farewell to the public, to children, and I think that's something the national team should do.

“"It was a farewell to the whole of Portugal.

“"There were training sessions every day, except the day after matches when the players were given the day off," he added after Portugal drew 0-0 against Macedonia and lost 3-1 to Turkey in warm-up games.

Coelho said that Portugal's participation at the tournament would be entirely financed by money allocated by European football's governing body UEFA to the 16 finalists.

“The accommodation costs are lower than at the last World Cup and the last European Championship," he said.

“"All the money we are spending, including the bonus money for the players, will come from the money which UEFA allocated to us for qualifying.

"“No Portuguese citizen will spend a centavo [on the national team]," he said, adding that taxes on prize money would be paid in Portugal, not Poland or Ukraine.

Former Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz and veteran coach Manuel Jose have been among the leading critics.

“"After the game against Macedonia, we all saw the players leave for their day off in cars which cost 400,000 euros in a country which is in crisis," said Manuel Jose.

“"This just increases the responsibility and, afterwards, makes the public more aggressive."

Goalkeeper Eduardo said the best response would be victory in Portugal's opening game against Germany on Saturday.

“"This team is more united than ever against the criticism and it's going to make us stronger," he said.

“"Many things have been published in the newspapers and magazines about cars and how much the players earn.

“"It doesn't make any sense. People see these stories and feel frustrated, but we are honest about what we do.

“"If we beat Germany, we can put a stop to all this noise."