FRANKFURT, Germany – The governing body of German soccer had a secret plan to fire coach Jurgen Klinsmann during the 2006 World Cup if the tournament had gone badly for the host team, according to former federation president Theo Zwanziger.
Zwanziger says he and three other top federation officials, including head local organizer Franz Beckenbauer, devised the plan to fire Klinsmann during the tournament if it turned into a "sporting disaster" for Germany. Only the four men knew about the plan to replace Klinsmann with sporting director Matthias Sammer, who was unaware of the idea.
Zwanziger was never a friend of Klinsmann and installed Sammer over Klinsmann's objections. Klinsmann led Germany to a third-place finish. He took over as coach of the U.S. national team last year.
Now retired, Zwanziger has written a book about his time as federation head and revealed the plan to possibly fire Klinsmann. In excerpts published on Wednesday by Bild, Zwanziger says "Plan B" was devised after Germany lost 4-1 to Italy in a March 2006 exhibition.
The federation also was angered that Klinsmann skipped a World Cup workshop for coaches shortly after the loss in Italy and returned to his home in California, according to Zwanziger.
"I have to admit that I was beginning to have doubts about our team chief. Publicly, I expressed loyalty to Juergen Klinsmann ... but internally we set up a plan B," Zwanziger wrote. "If a sporting disaster began to develop at the World Cup and Klinsmann was no longer acceptable, we decided to have Matthias Sammer jump in at short notice."
Klinsmann's assistant, Joachim Loew, never was considered because he was thought to be too close to Klinsmann and part of his inner circle, Zwanziger said. Klinsmann quit after the World Cup and replaced by Loew, who remains the coach.
Klinsmann then had an unsuccessful stint as coach of Bayern Munich that lasted less than a season.