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Klinsmann and the KFA: A Step Back for Korean Soccer


Jurgen Klinsmann, coach of the Korean national soccer team, was fired on Feb. 16 by the Korean Football Association (KFA), marking a dramatic end to the controversies about his lack of tactics and irresponsibility as a coach. However, Korean soccer fans are now demanding Jung Mong-Kyu, president of the KFA, be fired as well, due to his tyrant-like behavior that caused disagreement within the association since 2016.

Jurgen Klinsmann, a German soccer coach, was chosen as the coach for the Korean national team in February 2023. However, rather than going through the proper application process, Klinsmann was chosen arbitrarily by Jung solely due to his name value on Feb. 27. Many were confused about his appointment as coach, especially German fans who knew Klinsmann for his bad reputation. 

“Jung is considered the problem of the Korean soccer industry by many because he clearly doesn’t care about soccer,” Andrew Ro (11), varsity soccer player, said. “He doesn’t know much about soccer, but he only wants to be the leader of the KFA for money and fame. That is why he does not take responsibility for any issues of the KFA. ”

Since the beginning of his term as coach, fans criticized him for refusing to live in Korea to be physically present in training his players, which his predecessors did. Due to his limited understanding of his Korean players, Klinsmann was not only unable to employ complex tactics but was also unfitted to arbitrate conflicts within the team.

“Klinsmann was a bad coach not only because he didn’t have tactics on the field, but also because he was irresponsible off the pitch,” Yool Choi (10), varsity soccer player, said. “Because he cared so little about the Korean players, he allowed conflict to happen, which ultimately ruined the chemistry of the team.”

On Feb. 13, The Sun reported that Son Heung-min had a fractured finger due to a physical fight that occurred between the Korean national team players. The news stated that younger players like Lee Kang-in, Jung Woo-young, and Seol Young-woo wanted to play ping pong, but senior players like Son did not allow them, which was the source of conflict. On the next day, some of the players were heard of going to Klinsmann and requesting players like Lee to be removed from the starting lineup. However, Klinsmann did not understand the seniority-based culture in Korea, and did not make adequate changes to the team to preserve its peace and chemistry.

Yet, soccer fans are mainly criticizing the way that KFA presented this conflict. Although previous national teams also had their own conflicts, those conflicts were not publicized in such a manner by the KFA. One instance is when Kim Min-jae announced his retirement from the national team, as the KFA did not publicly criticize him for retiring from the team. Thus, many are accusing KFA and Jung of trying to divert attention away from the KFA, blaming the poor results of the Asian Cup on Klinsmann and the players.

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About the Contributor
Waan Choi, Copy Editor
Waan is a junior copy editor for the Tiger Times Online team. He mainly enjoys writing articles about sports and Korean news. He loves watching the Premier League, listening to music, and playing soccer. 

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