BRUSSELS, May 20 (Reuters) - Belgian national team manager 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.
“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.
“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, is due to address a news conference later on Wednesday but added in the same statement: “Because of the Euro 2020 postponement we could not possibly end our collaboration already now.
“The Belgian FA has an ambitious plan that I look forward to with great enthusiasm, both in the short and long term.
“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. I can only be happy and proud that I can continue working and prepare the future of Belgian football.”
Martinez, 46, had already said in interviews over the last month he wanted to continue in charge in order to take Belgium to Euro 2021, where they are drawn in Group B and will play Denmark, Finland and Russia.
The team, who are top of the FIFA world rankings, had qualified in imposing fashion, by winning all 10 qualifiers, 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. (Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Nick Macfie)