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Klinsmann fired as national team soccer coach

Feb. 16, 2024 - 17:29 By Yoon Min-sik
Chung Mong-gyu, chief of the Korea Football Association, speaks during a press conference at the organization's headquarters in Seoul on Friday. (Yonhap)

South Korean men's national soccer team head coach Juergen Klinsmann was fired on Friday, following the team's disappointing semifinal exit at the Asian Cup 2023 in the previous week.

Chung Mong-gyu, chief of the Korea Football Association, held a press conference at the KFA headquarters in Seoul to announce the German coach's sacking.

"As the head of the organization operating the national team, I humbly accept the criticism toward the KFA and me. ... The KFA decided to replace the national team coach. Coach Klinsmann failed to show leadership in terms of tactical decisions, player management and commitment toward the team," Chung said.

The National Team Committee of the KFA gave the recommendation to Chung on Thursday for Klinsmann to be removed as the national team coach, due to the team's lackluster performance against much lower-ranked teams in Asia's top tournament. The committee pointed out the coach's insufficient tactical preparation, his lack of commitment and his questionable leadership in the recent internal quarrel between team captain Son Heung-min and midfielder Lee Kang-in.

Klinsmann on Friday posted on his Instagram page to express his gratitude for the coaching staff, players and fans of the national team.

"Thank you so much for all your support taking us to the semi-final of the Asian Cup and an incredible journey over the last 12 months with not losing 13 games in a row before the semi-final!" he wrote on his Instagram page.

The dismissal of Klinsmann, who has two years and five months remaining on his contract, is expected to cost some 8 billion to 9 billion won () in buyout fees, including his coaching staff. "I'd have to discuss with the lawyer concerning the buyout fee ... but if there is a financial strain to the KFA, I'll consider contributions," Chung said, indicating that he could possibly shoulder the fees himself. In addition to being chief of Korea's governing body of soccer, Chung is also the chair of construction conglomerate HDC Group.

The chief said the organization will immediately commence the search for a replacement head coach ahead of the two World Cup qualifying contests against Thailand next month.

Chung did not comment on requests that he also resign as head of the KFA.