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Klinsmann: How to Reform a German Tradition

In a DW-WORLD interview, the national coach talks about US sports techniques, marketing and how he is trying to reform the German soccer tradition in the run-up to World Cup 2006.

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Klinsmann: The World Cup is important for German pride

Appointed to head up the national team in the run-up to the World Cup in 2006, the star striker who made a name for himself by bringing home the trophy in 1990, has been both praised and criticized for wanting to shake up German soccer. With his eyes clearly set on a national victory in two years, Jürgen Klinsmann has vowed to introduce new training techniques learned while living and working in the United States.

In an interview with DW-WORLD, Klinsmann stressed how important winning the World Cup is for German national pride: "Every time Germany wins a World Cup, it has an enormous importance for the whole country and people -- a feeling of self-worth and pride."

In order to reach that goal, the coach has begun implementing changes in the way the team trains and the way it works together. He has hired on US fitness trainers, brought on a lot of new young players and criticized a few big names in the sport.

DW-WORLD's Guido Baumhauer asked him about how the reforms were being received.

Jürgen Klinsmann DW-Interview mit Guido Baumhauer

Jürgen Klinsmann in DW-Interview with DW-WORLD's Guido Baumhauer

Klinsmann: "We Germans are always ready for reforms, but when it comes to changes, it gets to be a little bit uncomfortable, because we're forced to depart from our daily routine," Klinsmann said.

DW-WORLD: Mr. Klinsmann, you were active with the Los Angeles Galaxy in some way or another over the past four years. What training and motivation techniques have you brought over from the US and how have the German players adapted to them?

Klinsmann: We introduced some different ideas a few weeks ago in Berlin before the game against Brazil. We had invited some athletic coaches from the US who used some of their training methods. It wasn't that they were so new but they were a little different for the players and it was well received.

DW: How do the sporting mentalities differ between Germany and the US?

JK: They are both big sports countries. Obviously in the US, you have a big sports variety: basketball, baseball, American football, hockey, golf and then soccer. In Germany, you have soccer, soccer and then soccer. This is part of our culture and part of Europe. In general though, both nations are sports crazy.

Der Teamchef der Deutschen Fußball-Nationalmannschaft Jürgen Klinsmann Länderspiel Österreich - Deutschland

Jürgen Klinsmann throws the ball back during the friendly soccer match between Austria and Germany Aug. 18, 2004.

DW: One of the biggest success stories in sports marketing in Europe has been the English Premiere League. Match times, just to name one example, are sometimes changed to make the games more marketable. Do you have any views on how to increase the commercial image of the Bundesliga?

JK: The Premiere League did an unbelievable job in the last 15 years. Based on the connections with [Rupert] Murdoch and the Sky network, they placed the Premiere League in almost every country in the world, so it became more and more popular. Maybe this is something the Bundesliga can pick up on. We can show it around the world and convince the people of the product and maybe in a few years we'll be at the same level.

DW: German soccer is seen by many as coming up on the short end of the stick compared to the Primera Division in Spain, the Serie A in Italy and the English Premiere League in terms of marketability, quality of soccer and audience excitement. Do you agree with that claim?

JK: No. Absolutely not. All four leagues belong to the top four in the world. The stadiums are packed, the games are exciting. Here in Germany, the whole country is excited about hosting the World Cup in two years. We are moving ahead nicely and don't have to hide from anybody.

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