Four days after the national soccer team was eliminated from the preliminary round at the World Cup in Qatar, Oliver Bierhoff took the consequences. The 54-year-old is leaving the German Football Association after 18 years, both parties agreed on Monday to terminate the contract, which runs until 2024.
"I'm paving the way for a new course," Bierhoff said in a statement: "Some decisions that we were convinced of have not turned out to be the right ones. No one regrets that more than I do. I take responsibility for that."
The top official thus revised the attitude he expressed immediately after the end of the World Cup on Thursday that he wanted to head for the 2024 European Championships at home as the next big goal. "I wish the DFB, its many committed employees, all the associations and clubs, institutions and initiatives gathered under its roof and our national teams every success in their important tasks," said the former professional.
Bierhoff vacates the post as DFB director responsible for the national teams and the academy before the crisis talks with DFB President Bernd Neuendorf and DFL Supervisory Board Chairman Hans-Joachim Watzke announced for the middle of the week. The DFB committees will discuss the succession plan. It was initially unclear what consequences Hansi Flick's resignation would have for the future as national coach.
Bierhoff came to the DFB in 2004, in a role that the association had never seen before. As team manager, he played a key role in the summer fairy tale at the home World Cup two years later, alongside national coach Jürgen Klinsmann. With great success he created a spirit of optimism for the DFB-Elf, which ultimately culminated in the 2014 World Cup triumph in Brazil with Joachim Löw as national coach.
For Bierhoff, parallel to the sporting decline, a continuous loss of acceptance among the fans followed at the latest after the EM-Aus 2016. His marketing concepts were interpreted negatively. The term "The Team" he introduced as a brand message for the national team didn't catch on at all. The completion of the DFB Academy in Frankfurt as the new association headquarters was a counterpoint to the critical mood and an affair of the heart for the 1996 European champion.
Even with the tournament planning, things didn't go smoothly for the former centre-forward. His hymn-acclaimed cabin village Campo Bahia in Brazil was the last stroke of luck as team quarters. There was a lot of criticism for the hotel in Vatutinki near Moscow in 2018 - especially after the World Cup. The Zulal Wellnes Resort in Al-Ruwais in northern Qatar has also become a symbol of an overly sheltered and isolated national team. After failing again in the preliminary round, Bierhoff was even more in the focus of disappointed football fans than Flick.