Klinsmann fired as coach of South Korea’s national soccer team after Asian Cup semifinal loss


Jurgen Klinsmann has been fired as head coach of the South Korean national team after an Asian Cup semifinal exit and reports of infighting among star players, ending a turbulent 12 months for the German coach.

The Korean Football Association made the announcement on Friday.

Klinsmann was already under heavy criticism after South Korea’s upset 2-0 semifinal loss to Jordan last week and pressure intensified following media reports of a spat between captain Son Heung-min and young star Lee Kang-in during the tournament.

On Thursday at an Asian Cup campaign review at KFA headquarters in Seoul, the eight-member National Team Committee talked to Klinsmann via video conference from his home in the United States, before reaching its findings.

“For a number of reasons, we concluded that Klinsmann would no longer be able to show his leadership as head coach of the national team,” the KFA’s technical director Hwangbo Kwan said. “We will report our conclusion to the KFA.”

The final decision was made by KFA chairman Chung Mong-gyu.

“After a comprehensive review, the KFA has decided to change the head coach,” Chung told media in Seoul on Friday. “When it comes to bringing out the best in the national team, managing players and his work habits, Klinsmann did not live up to our expectations of a national team head coach, nor did he demonstrate leadership.”

“We decided that Klinsmann was unlikely to improve as head coach, in terms of his abilities and work ethic.”

Klinsmann, head coach of the United States national team from 2011 to 2016, thanked his players in a social media post.

“To all players, my coaching staff and all Korean football fans with sincere gratitude!” he wrote. “Thank you so much for all your support taking us to the semifinal of the Asian Cup and an incredible journey over the last 12 months with not losing 13 games in a row before the semifinal!”

Lee, who plays for Paris Saint-Germain, apologized on Wednesday on social media.

“I have caused great disappointment to fans who always support our national team. I am really sorry,” Lee wrote on Instagram . “I should have set an example and listened to older teammates. I’d like to apologize to many people who must be disappointed in me.”

Hwangbo added during the meeting that Klinsmann, who had refused to stand down ahead of World Cup qualifying games next month, had said that the infighting affected the performance of the players against Jordan.

“There were opinions that Klinsmann failed to show his resolve to find new talent and that he failed to grasp internal conflict or mood among squad members,” Hwangbo said.

As well as his leadership and tactical skills, Klinsmann has been unpopular with fans for refusing to base himself in South Korea, in contrast to previous foreign coaches. Klinsmann won the World Cup as a player and had success as coach of the German and U.S. teams before taking on the role in South Korea.

“Some committee members said the coach has not shown willingness to watch players in person and identify talent,” Hwangbo said. “Also, there were opinions that Klinsmann has been disrespectful toward the Korean public by not spending enough time in the country.”

Chung had also been criticized for the performance of the national team, his hiring of Klinsmann in February of last year and for his leadership.

Chung said Friday the Korean association was not ready to announce a replacement for Klinsmann, whose contract was set to run until the end of the 2026 World Cup. South Korea’s qualification campaign for that tournament continues in March with back-to-back games against Thailand.

“Rather than going into every detail and discussing who did what and how, we will use this as an opportunity to discuss with the new coach ways to help the young players grow further and become a team.” Chung said.


AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer

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