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Klinsmann defends quitting Hertha, suggests power struggle

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BERLIN — Jurgen Klinsmann has defended his abrupt resignation as Hertha Berlin coach and suggested that cultural differences and a power struggle were behind his decision to quit after just nine Bundesliga games.

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The former Germany and United States coach addressed fans in a live broadcast on Facebook on Wednesday, when he apologized for the manner of his announcement the day before — also on Facebook — and suggested he had misjudged the situation he was getting into when he accepted the job on Nov. 27.

“Conditions were very difficult for me, perhaps because I’ve had other experiences in other countries. I’ve experienced life in Italy and France and England, of course,” Klinsmann said, referring to his playing career.

Klinsmann said he regretted that he hadn’t been given full control over the squad and that he clashed on several occasions with general manager Michael Preetz, whose duties he felt should be his own.

“In Germany, we’re used to having a manager on the substitutes bench at the side of the pitch and that he participates, that he’s there for the players, and keeps the door open for them. I wasn’t used to that anymore. I know the English model for a manager – they’re called managers in England, not coaches – has only one job and that’s being the boss of the club,” Klinsmann said.

“They’re different in Germany, where everyone gets to have their say, everyone plays a role, the whole management structure. In the end only one can decide, and I feel it has to be the coach. And we disagreed there. Unfortunately we disagreed on many things.”

[ MORE: Report: Chelsea closing in on Hakim Ziyech deal ]

The turning point came after Hertha’s meek 3-1 loss at home to Mainz on Saturday, which came four days after its extra-time defeat to Schalke in the German Cup.

“I hardly slept at all that night and then I came marching in early yesterday morning, and I’m a type of person that can hardly be stopped. Sure, if I had spoken to a couple of people, they probably would have convinced me to keep going, to take two or three days off or whatever. I didn’t have the day off that the team had and that’s how it happened,” Klinsmann said.

Klinsmann’s decision to quit caught Hertha by surprise, with the players and Preetz only finding out shortly before he made the announcement on Facebook.

Much was expected of Klinsmann when he was appointed, and an extensive backroom staff was hired to help him deliver on the promise provided by a $250 million investment from new backer Lars Windhorst.

Klinsmann was supposed to lead Hertha up the standings toward the European qualification places. But the team is still fighting off relegation.

“A lot of you said it ended in chaos,” Klinsmann told fans. “That’s absolutely not true, absolutely not true. This team is stabilized. We came in and the team was practically in a relegation place, level on points, and now there’s six points difference. The team is stabilized and playing in whole different way to the way we found it.”

Hertha’s record under Klinsmann in the Bundesliga is three wins, three draws and three defeats. The 55-year-old said he was sure the team will stay up, regardless of who is coach. Assistant coach Alexander Nouri is in charge for now.

“The goal for the year is survival, next year the goal is towards Europe,” Klinsmann said. “The goals are very important. If you don’t have goals, there’s no point in getting out of bed in the morning.”

Preetz, Windhorst and Hertha club president Werner Gegenbauer – who rarely makes public statements – are to hold a joint press conference to address the issues on Thursday.

Belarusian Premier League roundup: BATE Borisov pick up win, end early-season drought

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The Belarusian Premier League – the only active European top-flight league at the moment – continued on Saturday despite the coronavirus pandemic.

FC Rukh 0-1 BATE Borisov

With an early goal from midfielder Stanislav Dragun, BATE Borisov, Belarus’ most successful team (15 league titles) and a regular face in European competition, earned their first win of the season. Kirill Alshevsky, who took over at the helm prior to the season, had started his spell on a two-game losing streak.

BATE, despite not winning the possession battle decisively, generated twice as many shots on target as the visitors, registering a total of 11 shots throughout 90 minutes at Borisov Arena.

A winner of 13 straight Belarusian Premier League titles – spanning from 2006 to 2018 – pressure began looming over BATE after starting the 2020 campaign with back-to-back lackluster results. BATE, who lost to Arsenal in Europa League’s Round of 32 in April 2019, were outscored 5-2 in the first, two games of the league.

Dinamo Minsk, the second most successful Belarusian side, also picked up their first three points on Friday, following a slower-than-usual start to the season. Meanwhile, defending champion Dinamo Brest fell 2-1 to Slavia-Mozyr, dropping to eighth on the table.

Elsewhere in Belarusian Premier League 

Shakhtyor 0-0 Nerman

Dinamo Brest 1-2 Slavia-Mozyr

NWSL extends league-wide training moratorium through May

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The NWSL is extending its league-wide training moratorium another month amid the coronavirus pandemic, the league announced on Saturday.

All NWSL teams will be unable to partake in team trainings until at least May 5, extending its previous training moratorium that was set to expire on Sunday, April 5. The 2020 season – which was set to start on April 18 – is expected to start by the end of June, according to NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird.

“We’ve been just communicating with our players and we’re targeting for the end of June for our season to start,” Baird told The Equalizer. “I say that with conviction and hope, but … we’re gonna adhere to the public health guidelines that are in place at the time and I don’t think that we can predict what they are. But our strategy is in place.”

Earlier this week, Major League Soccer and United Soccer League extended their training moratorium through April 24 and April 19, respectively.

Report: England manager Gareth Southgate agrees to 30 percent pay cut

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England manager Gareth Southgate has agreed to a 30 percent pay cut amid the coronavirus pandemic, our partners at Sky Sports reported on Saturday.

[ MORE: What PL clubs are doing to help during coronavirus ] 

Southgate’s move, which is reportedly expected to be confirmed by the Football Association (FA) next week, comes hours after the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) released a statement on behalf of the Premier League players responding to proposed pay cuts.

A FA spokesperson told Sky Sports the following: “The financial implications of the coronavirus are not yet known however, as a not-for-profit organization, we want to ensure that we take the appropriate course of action to support the wider organization and our employees.

“We will make a further announcement on our next steps in due course.”

On Friday, Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe – and a handful of technical staff personnel – became the first Premier League manager to take a voluntary pay cut. Howe’s “significant, voluntary” pay cuts were done in light of the club furloughing non-playing employees throughout the organization, joining Tottenham, Norwich, Newcastle and Liverpool.

Spanish league and players still far apart on salary cuts

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MADRID (AP) The Spanish league and players are still far apart on the size of the salary cuts they need to take to help reduce the financial impact caused by the coronavirus outbreak, with the footballers saying the organization wants them to carry nearly half the total losses.

The league and the players’ association have been in talks to try to find ways to mitigate losses that could reach nearly 1 billion euros ($1.08 billion) if the season cannot be restarted because of the pandemic.

The players have said they are willing to reduce their salaries, but not as much as the league or the clubs want.

“After analyzing the current circumstances of the sector and given the distance in conversations with the players’ association, it is necessary to adopt measures in view of the serious economic crisis that COVID-19 is causing in the Spanish soccer industry,” the league said in a statement.

It also added that government furloughs are “an exceptional mechanism to avoid and mitigate the negative impact that COVID-19 is having on the sector, and thus guarantee its subsequent recovery.”

According to media reports, the league expects losses of 957 million euros ($1.03 billion) if the season is canceled, with 303 million euros ($327 million) lost if it resumes with games in empty stadiums and 156 million euros ($168 million) of deficits if it continues with fans.

The players said the total cuts in salaries requested by the league would account for 451 million euros ($487 million) if the top flight cannot restart.

The reduction in salaries being discussed reportedly varies depending on the clubs, and also on whether they are playing in the Champions League or the Europa League.

Team captains met with the players’ association late Friday to discuss their options after the league earlier in the day called for all clubs to put the footballers on government furloughs to reduce labor costs while the stoppage of play continued. The furloughs help the clubs and guarantee players their jobs once the crisis is over.

The league said it is responsible for preserving an industry that represents 1.37 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product and employs about 185,000 people.

Atlético Madrid and Barcelona were among the clubs to resort to the furloughs in recent days. Both reached an agreement with players to reduce their salaries by 70 percent, and guaranteed the wages of other employees were unaffected.

There are nearly 125,000 cases of the new coronavirus in Spain, which on Saturday surpassed Italy as the country with the second-most infections behind the United States. The death toll in the nation stands at 11,744.

The government is expected to extend lockdown measures until April 26, likely keeping the Spanish league suspended until then.

The league has said the season won’t resume until authorities deem it safe for everyone’s health. It said it will recommend a “minimum of 15 days” of practice before the games can restart, though it suggested recently the training period may begin with restrictions before the lockdown is removed.

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