BERLIN (AP) — Oliver Bierhoff is the first managerial casualty of Germany’s early World Cup exit after agreeing to resign as managing director of the country’s national soccer teams and academy.
The German soccer federation said on Monday that Bierhoff agreed to prematurely end his contract. It was due to run through the 2024 European Championship.
Germany is set to host that tournament but there are concerns about the team’s direction after a second successive World Cup exit at the group stage coming after its second-round exit from the European Championship last year.
Bierhoff had a management role with the federation for 18 years since becoming manager of the men’s national team in 2004, two years after the former forward’s last game for Germany. He took over all of the national teams and academy in 2018 and received another promotion this year.
“Bierhoff has done a great job,” federation president Bernd Neuendorf said in a statement. “Even if the last tournaments fell short of the sporting goals, he stands for great moments. His work will always be associated with the World Cup success in Brazil.”
Bierhoff was credited with playing a key role in Germany’s 2014 World Cup win by setting the team up at Campo Bahia, a resort in the northeast of Brazil where coach Joachim Löw was able to foster a winning team spirit among his happy players.
But subsequent attempts to provide a similar team camp failed to yield the same results. Germany crashed out of the 2018 World Cup as defending champion at the first hurdle and has underperformed since.
“In the past four years we haven’t been able to build on previous successes and give the fans reason to celebrate again. Some decisions that we were convinced of did not turn out to be the right ones,” Bierhoff said in the federation statement. “No one regrets that more than me. I take responsibility for that.”
As a player, Bierhoff scored 37 times in 70 games for Germany, including two as a substitute to help Germany defeat the Czech Republic 2-1 in the Euro 1996 final.
Before flying home last Friday after Germany’s latest World Cup flop, Neuendorf said he wanted the sporting management of Bierhoff and coach Hansi Flick to present him this week with a sporting analysis of the tournament in Qatar and offer recommendations leading up to Euro 2024 in Germany.
Flick’s future as coach remains uncertain.
The federation said its committee will discuss a succession plan for Bierhoff.
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