Football: Vogts and Bonev depart but Clemente clings on

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The Independent Online

ONE OF Europe's most high-profile national team coaches resigned yesterday after a campaign of vilification led largely by an intolerant media. The "victim" was not England's Glenn Hoddle, but Berti Vogts.

's long-serving coach, who replaced Franz Beckenbauer after West 's 1990 World Cup triumph, made the decision to quit following a telephone conversation with Egidius Braun, the president of the German Football Federation (DFB). His successor will be appointed as soon as possible, according to the DFB.

Vogts had been under fire since his side's unexpected World Cup quarter- final defeat by Croatia in France this summer. Playing their first matches since their World Cup exit, failed to shine in two friendlies last week in Malta. A narrow 2-1 win over the home country was followed by a tame 1-1 draw with Romania on Saturday. Both results went down badly with the critics.

Vogts was only the sixth German national team coach since 1923, and only the second to lose his job, after Jupp Derwall in 1984. His overall record in 102 games was 67 wins, 23 draws and 12 defeats. His only trophy was the European Championship, won at Wembley two years ago. His World Cup campaigns were both regarded as failures.

Vogts said he was quitting because he saw no way of carrying on in the face of "great public pressure", and to preserve "any remnants of dignity left over for me".

Braun said: "Humanely, it hurts incredibly to carry out this separation. But, as DFB president, I had to realise that it had become unavoidable."


ENGLAND'S NEXT Euro 2000 opponents, Bulgaria, are also looking for a new coach.

Hristo Bonev has resigned as the coach of the Bulgarians, who come to Wembley on 10 October. He was slated by the Sofia media yesterday following his team's "shameful" 3-0 defeat at home to Poland in their first European Championship qualifier on Sunday.

After the match Bonev was adamant he had made the right decision to leave out nine of his old guard for the Group Five match in Bourgas. "I have chosen the road of changes and will keep following it whatever it costs me," he said on Sunday. "Patience is needed." He used only two of the players who helped Bulgaria to fourth place at the 1994 World Cup: the 32-year-old Hristo Stoichkov, who now plays in Japan, and Ivailo Yordanov.

Yesterday, though, Bonev admitted defeat, and resigned. "I feel very tired. The tense atmosphere hinders normal work. Too many things have to be changed in Bulgarian football. This time my decision is final and nothing can make me change it," Bonev said. He had initially quit after his team's first-round exit at France 98, but later changed his mind.

Bonev had tried in vain to persuade Krassimir Balakov to rescind his international retirement. The VfB Stuttgart playmaker's absence was felt strongly on Sunday, as the strikers Stoichkov and Doncho Donev had no service to feed off. Balakov may now change his mind in time to play against England.


JAVIER CLEMENTE looks set to survive the latest clamour for his resignation as Spain's coach.

Saturday's 3-2 defeat by Cyprus in Nicosia, when Spain's team of high- profile, high-earning players were out-classed by the part-timers of the home country in a European Championship qualifier, led to calls for Clemente's departure.

Clemente has never been popular with the Spanish media, especially following his side's limp first-round exit at the World Cup in France. After Sunday's humiliation, the Barcelona-based newspaper Sport declared yesterday: "It is intolerable that after the fiasco of the World Cup we should now return to the ridiculous."

It is not just the media which is wielding the knife. Radomir Antic, the former coach of Atletico Madrid, said: "This is the worst Spanish team I've seen in my life."

Jesus Gil y Gil, the always outspoken Atletico Madrid president, added: "It's embarrassing that this man continues to run the team."

But despite the widespread criticism of his team selection and tactics, Clemente still has the backing of the president of the Spanish Football Federation. Angel Maria Villar said: "Our confidence in Javier Clemente is total. Spanish football continues to support him."

As for Clemente, he insisted: "I'm not going to go. We haven't lost anything and our chances of going to Euro 2000 are still intact."


SINGAPORE WON the Tiger Cup international tournament in Vietnam on Saturday, beating the host nation 1-0 in the final in Hanoi. The focus of attention, though, remained the farcical game earlier in the event between Thailand and Indonesia.

As reported here last week, both teams sought to avoid a win and a semi- final meeting with Vietnam - an Indonesian defender scored a deliberate own goal to give Thailand victory. Fines of pounds 25,000 per team were this weekend reduced by the Asian Football Federation: the Indonesians must now pay pounds 12,500, the Thais pounds 6,250.

The sorry saga has reduced the already poor standing of Asian football. "We already suffer from a lack of credibility in this region, partly because of the problems from match-fixing," Singapore's English coach, Barry Whitbread, a former Chesterfield midfieder, said. "Everyone saw the game between Thailand and Indonesia, and that has dragged the region's reputation down even further."

Vietnam's coach, Alfred Riedl, an Austrian, admitted there was a culture of corruption in his adopted country. "They have some problems here with match-fixing," Riedl, who has been working in Vietnam for four months, said. "It's not as bad as Malaysia was a few years ago - but it is still going on and it is ruining the game." In the mid-1990s, dozens of Malaysian players and officials were implicated in match-fixing scandals.