Klinsmann heads to Hertha Berlin and keeps the family link alive

Former Germany and United States coach Jürgen Klinsmann said Wednesday he is maintaining a family passion by taking over as interim boss of struggling Bundesliga club Hertha Berlin until the end of the season.

Klinsmann heads to Hertha Berlin and keeps the family link alive
Klinsmann at a press conference in Berlin on Wednesday. Photo: DPA

Klinsmann replaces Ante Covic, who only took charge in July after six years coaching the reserves, but was sacked following Sunday's 4-0 thrashing at mid-table Augsburg, the club's fourth straight league defeat.

READ ALSO: Ex-Germany coach Jürgen Klinsmann takes charge at Hertha Berlin

Klinsmann, the 55-year-old a former European and world champion, was appointed to the club's supervisory board at the start of November, but steps in with Hertha just above the relegation zone.

“It's an honour to be able to help out,” said Klinsmann in a hastily arranged press conference.

“My father was an enthusiastic Hertha fan and my son played here for two years, so I know a lot of people here,” added Klinsmann.

Klinsmann's backroom staff also has plenty of experience.

His assistant coach Alexander Nouri helped rescue Werder Bremen from relegation in 2016-17, while goalkeeping coach Andreas Koepke won the Euro '96 title alongside Klinsmann for Germany.

Klinsmann's main task is to keep Hertha up. The club spent 2010-11 and 2012-13 in the second division.

Klinsmann, a California resident, was born in southwest Germany and started his career at Stuttgart, but he has held membership of Hertha for years and his father was a keen supporter of the west Berlin club.

Klinsmann in Hamburg in September. Photo: DPA

His son Jonathan played for Hertha as reserve goalkeeper from 2017 until the start of this season, when the United States Under-23 international joined Swiss side St Gallen.

“Berlin, as many people say, is a sleeping giant, but the situation is difficult, you can see that on the league table.”

Big challenge

Klinsmann confirmed he will be interim boss until next May to allow director of sport Michael Preetz time to find a permanent head coach.

“You have to be flexible, open and direct, it is foreseen that I will do this job until May 2020 to give Michael time,” explained Klinsmann.

“I don't know what is planned for May, but that's football.”

The former Tottenham, Bayern Munich and Inter Milan striker helped his country win the 1990 World Cup and 1996 European championships, making 108 appearances and scoring 47 goals for Germany.

He was then head coach of Germany from 2004 until the 2006 World Cup, when the hosts reached the semi-finals under his stewardship.

READ ALSO: Klinsmann: Not German enough for Germany?

He also led the United States national team from 2011 until 2016, guiding them to the last 16 of the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil.

Hertha's director of sport Preetz described Klinsmann as a “successful, charismatic” coach “with radiant energy. A football expert”.

However, there are questions whether Klinsmann can be successful in the Bundesliga, a decade after Bayern Munich sacked him after just nine months and 43 games in April 2009.

He acknowledges the challenge he is facing.

“Coaching a national and a club team is something completely different, in a national team you have a lot more time,” he admitted.

Klinsmann's first game in charge of Hertha will be Saturday's home game against Borussia Dortmund at Berlin's Olympic Stadium.

He confirmed reports that ex-Germany defender and Hertha captain Arne Friedrich will be give a role as performance manager.

“He will have an open ear for the players and also help with their career planning,” said Klinsmann.

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EXPLAINED: The Covid rules for attending German football matches

The German Bundesliga kicks off on Friday evening with a match in Mönchengladbach. Here's a run-down of the Covid rules for football fans itching to join the crowds at the stadium.

EXPLAINED: The Covid rules for attending German football matches
Crowds cheer at a match between FC Kaiserslautern and Borussia Mönchengladbach, on August 9th, 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Uwe Anspach

All eyes will be on Mönchengladbach this evening as the Bundesliga season kicks off with a match against reigning champions Bayern Munich – and this time, a crowd will be present in the stadium.

READ ALSO: German football fans get green light to return to stadiums next season

With several states liberalising their rules for public gatherings in recent months, many football fans are looking forward to enjoying a lively atmosphere at football matches once more. 

There’s just one problem: there are different rules for different stadiums. Here’s what you need to know about the Covid rules before you book your ticket for any of the upcoming fixtures. 

How many fans are allowed in the stadiums? 

According to a recent decision by the federal and state governments, football stadiums around the country are allowed to fill half of their seats and sell up to 25,000 tickets to fans. 

Of course, how much this limit affects the overall atmosphere – and the football clubs’ bottoms lines – depends on the capacity of the stadium. In Borussia Dortmund this weekend, the full 25,000 tickets have been sold – but that only equates to 30 percent of the stadium’s full capacity.

READ ALSO: German football: Which Bundesliga club should I support?

Meanwhile, in the stadium owned by Berlin’s FC Union, selling just 11,000 tickets is enough to fill half of the available seats. 

What do I need to show to get in? 

That really depends on the stadium in question, although in general anyone over the age of six will need to show a negative test or proof of vaccination or recovery – the so-called ‘3G’ rule – to enter the grounds. But other clubs, such as FC Cologne, have decided to only permit people who are vaccinated or recovered to attend matches from August 28th onwards – with exceptions for people who can’t get vaccinated, like children and pregnant woman.

At Mönchengladbach’s Borussia Park stadium, however, unvaccinated fans can enter with a negative test, though visitors who’ve stayed in a high-risk or virus variant area over the past two weeks will be unable to enter – along with people who’ve had recent contact with someone who has Covid. 

If you want to see action like this at FC Cologne’s stadium, you’ll need to get your Covid jabs sorted first. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Robert Michael

Meanwhile, Borussia Dortmund has taken a middle ground. While the 3G rule applies in principle, only 1,000 of the available 25,000 tickets will be sold to people who are providing a negative test. The remaining 24,000 seats will only be available for those who are vaccinated against – or recently recovered from – Covid. 

If you’re not vaccinated and are keen to see a match, it’s worth checking on your local club’s website beforehand or sending them an email to double-check whether you will be allowed in. 

What else do I need to know about? 

You’ll need to bring a FPP2 mask with you to matches to wear in your seat and while heading to the bathroom or bar, and also observe social distancing rules – meaning staying 1.5 metres apart from your fellow fans.

In most states, you’ll also need to provide your contact details, which will be saved by the club and potentially passed on to local health authorities in order to monitor a potential Covid outbreak. 

Will these rules continue throughout the season?

That’s still an open question. If infection rates in Germany continue to rise or high-profile superspreading events occur at future matches, the government could potentially crack down further on sports events in autumn.

This could involve limiting the seat numbers even further, or (more controversially), introducing a ‘vaccinated-only’ rule for entering stadiums. 

READ ALSO: Should Germany bring in Covid restrictions for unvaccinated people only?

A recent outbreak of Covid in the Mainz football team has also dampened celebrations slightly in the run-up to the start of the Bundesliga – leaving club owners urgently calling for both fans and footballers to get vaccinated. 

Speaking to WDR ahead of the season’s start, FC Cologne’s managing director Alexander Wehrle said widespread vaccination was the best route back to normality – a message reiterated by Bayern Munich coach Julian Nagelsmann.