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Football's Voss-Tecklenburg and Germany: An awkward divorce

October 24, 2023

The coach of the German women's football team, Martina Voss-Tecklenburg, has still failed to comment on Germany's poor World Cup performance, leaving some players with a bad feeling.

Martina Voss-Tecklenburg looks disappointed.
Voss-Tecklenburg's departure from her role as Germany national team coach has been messyImage: Memmler/Eibner/IMAGO

The fallout from Germany's shock first round exit at the World Cup and the position of its coach, Martina Voss-Tecklenburg, is threatening to become a saga.

Germany's women's coach since 2018, Voss-Tecklenburg was widely expected to step down or be fired after they limped out of a World Cup in which they considered themselves among the favorites.

Instead, following the team's return from Australia and New Zealand, the German Football Association (DFB) announced that she was off sick from September 8, and since mid-October has been on a period of vacation, approved by the DFB.

Voss-Tecklenburg speaks to Bavarian dentists

On October 19, Voss-Tecklenburg was seen in public for the first time again when she gave a guest "celebratory lecture" to dentists at the Bavarian Dental Association.

Her surprise appearance is a bizarre twist in what appears to be a long goodbye to the woman who guided Germany to the final of Euro 2022, when England were crowned champions.

Her lecture — "Shaping to perform: my management in women's soccer" — was seemingly unknown to the DFB until they commented on Sunday, keen to get to the root of the problem.

"The DFB has taken note of Voss-Tecklenburg's appearance at the Bavarian Dentists' Day," the statement read. "A joint discussion is to take place immediately after the end of the vacation."

Voss-Tecklenburg, 55, had already given a talk on team building and coaching on October 11 in Bremen at a forum organized by the German Association of the Prefabricated Housing Industry, which largely flew under the radar. 

Lena Oberdorf lines up for the Germany national team.
'I would have wished for something different' — Oberdorf is unhappy about the situation with Voss-Tecklenburg.Image: Memmler/Eibner/IMAGO

Oberdorf: 'It raises a few question marks'

Lena Oberdorf, the Germany and Wolfsburg midfielder, questioned the wisdom of Voss-Tecklenburg's decision to make these public appearances having failed to properly address the team's World Cup performance.

"It raises a few question marks for me," Oberdorf said in Frankfurt on Monday ahead of Friday's Nations League match against Wales.

"I would have wished for something different. For example, we could first clarify what happened at the World Cup and then she could go on vacation."

Asked whether the coach should return, Oberdorf said she did not have the "power" to make such a decision.

"I'm just here to do my job. The DFB will take care of everything else."

Germany's players look disappointed during their World Cup defeat by Colombia.
Germany's defeat by Colombia put them on the path to a first round exit in Australia and New Zealand.Image: Memmler/Eibner/IMAGO

DFB distant

The DFB has been quiet on the matter though, with President Bernd Neuendorf evasive last Friday when asked about the situation at a press conference with interim national coach Horst Hrubesch and DFB managing director Andreas Rettig.

The matter was "on hold," Neuendorf said. "We hope she recovers well, that she gets well quickly."

Rettig was equally cautious about Voss-Tecklenburg, whose contract runs until 2025: "We also have to be prepared in case there is no return."

In a further sign that their relationship is beyond repair, Voss-Tecklenburg reportedly only communicates with the governing body via lawyers.

Hrubesch has 'brought back the joy'

Assistant coach Britta Carlsen took charge of the team in September for a 2-0 Nations League defeat by Denmark and a 4-0 victory over Iceland, which put them back in the hunt for a top-two position in their group and qualification for the 2024 Olympics.

Amid the instability, there is a veneer of hope for Germany though. Since Hrubesch, who was in charge of Germany's women's team for eight months in 2018, returned as interim coach earlier this month, there has been an uptick in the mood in the camp, according to Oberdorf.

Horst Hrubesch is unveiled as interim coach of Germany women's national team at a DFB press conference on October 20, 2023.
Horst Hrubesch, 72, is back for his second spell as Germany coach — and hopes to keep the job permanently.Image: Florian Wiegan/Eibner/IMAGO

"He has brought back the joy we've been missing for the past few games," the 21-year-old said of Hrubesch, whose first game in charge will be against Wales in Sinsheim, followed by a trip to Iceland on October 31.

"We have a clear mission and with Horst Hrubesch we also have a good coach at our side. I've only heard good things about him... we want to show the football we can play."

As Germany piece together the wreckage after their World Cup humiliation, Hrubesch appears to be in pole position for the role on a permanent basis – with Germany's performances in October's games key to whether he will lead the team into their final two group games in December and potentially the Nations League playoffs next year.

"I think the DFB must decide how this is deciced. It is none of my business," said Hrubesch, a Bundesliga and European Cup winner as a player with Hamburg. "I am concentrating on these two games and hope that it will be four in the end — plus the two in the playoffs."

Despite the uncertainty, one thing appears certain — there is no way back for Voss-Tecklenburg at the DFB.