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Bayern Munich's Coach Gets the Ax

Soccer team Bayern Munich has fired Otto Hitzfeld, one of Germany's most successful and respected coaches, after a disappointing year leading the country's most famous team. The decision to let Hitzfeld go follows weeks of speculation about his fate in the wake of a difficult season in which the team was knocked out of the Champion's League and domestic cup competitions and then gave up their standing as German champions in a loss to Werder Bremen. Hitzfeld, a former mathematics teacher, won four Bundesliga titles in six years, but his team stumbled last year, playing without passion or inspiration, according to team president Franz Beckenbauer. "We have been lucky to have him, but if he can't motivate the players anymore, maybe we need a change," Beckenbauer, Germany's most influential soccer figure, told reporters.