American Abby Wambach, whose 184 goals make her the top scorer in international soccer history, retired with a bang on Wednesday, saying the US Soccer Federation should fire men’s coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
The 35-year-old striker helped the Americans win this year’s Women’s World Cup and was set to make her farewell as a player in a US friendly against China on Wednesday at New Orleans.
“Congrats on a great career, Abby Wambach,” US President Barack Obama tweeted. “For the goals you’ve scored and the kids you’ve inspired, you’re the GOAT (Greatest of All Time)!”
Wambach made her controversial comments on a podcast, even apologizing to US Soccer president Sunil Gulati as she blasted his key employee, the one charged with getting the US squad to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
“I would definitely fire Jurgen,” Wambach said. “Sorry Sunil. Sorry US Soccer, but I don’t think Jurgen and this litmus test on him has worked. He hasn’t really focused, I feel, enough attention on the youth programs. Although he says he has, I don’t think that he has.”
Wambach also took issue with many of the dual citizens that Klinsmann has recruited to the American team, many of them with American and German citizenship.
“The way that he has brought in a bunch of these foreign guys is not something I believe in wholeheartedly,” she said.
“And I love (German-born American) Jermaine Jones, I love watching him play, and I love (German-born American) Fabian Johnson, and he plays in Germany (Borussia Monchengladbach) and is actually killing it right now after being sent home for ‘faking an injury’. But I just think that this experiment that US Soccer has given Jurgen isn’t one that personally I’m into. It has got to be interesting for those guys to see their coach take off in a helicopter and fly home to his home and then back to training.
“It seems to me there are too many egos in our men’s program right now and the bigger ego of all of them is the one who is leading the charge,” she said.
Gulati told ESPN: “Abby has never been shy of speaking her mind, but today it’s best to celebrate a wonderful career and character.”
Klinsmann has been under pressure lately despite a strong US run to the knockout stages at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The Americans were semifinal losers to Jamaica in the Gold Cup and lost to Mexico when playing for a berth in the Confederations Cup.
Wambach, who has won two Olympic gold medals and was named FIFA 2012 Women’s Player of the Year, argued for women to be paid as well as men for their efforts on the pitch.
“The men get paid way more than the women in soccer, yeah, I understand logically the argument about the ratings and that is more global,” she said.
“But that doesn’t mean that it makes it right. Equality isn’t something that actually costs anything.”
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