Like many American soccer fans, I’m very excited with Juergen Klinsmann taking over the reigns of the U.S. national team. I was never a fan of Bob Bradley and am very happy to see Klinsmann agree to the job.
But this gets to a point I’ve always been a bit iffy on in soccer: Should national team coaches be allowed to come from a different country as the one they coach?
Klinsmann is German born, played for the German national team and coached the team as well. If all U.S. players must be Americans in order to play, shouldn’t Klinsmann have to be American in order to coach? Sure, FIFA has rules that allow teams to switch national teams (Jermaine Jones has dual-citizenship for the U.S. and Germany and chose the U.S. after playing three friendlies for Germany), but those rules don’t even exist for coaching.
Klinsmann doesn’t need to have American citizenship and doesn’t need to have any connection to the United States even. U.S. soccer president Sunil Gulati could hire Maradona tomorrow and under FIFA rules, that’s entirely acceptable.
Right now, England’s manager is Fabio Capello, an Italian. When he was introduced in 2010, FIFA president Sepp Blatter criticized the move, saying “I would say it is a little surprising that the motherland of football has ignored a sacrosanct law or belief that the national team manager should be from the same country as the players.”
Well Sepp, why isn’t it a rule? Why shouldn’t each soccer federation be comprised entirely of people born in that country – or at least with citizenship from that country? From players to trainers to coaches to scouts, everyone should be equal.
So while I am certainly excited about Klinsmann taking the job, it is tainted with a slight bad taste of a non-American coaching the team. Even so, that’s a rule Blatter should change and until then, I’m looking forward to Klinsmann bringing this team to its full potential.