Mainz sporting director quits as club talks to predecessor

·2 min read

MAINZ, Germany (AP) -- Rouven Schroder quit as sporting director of Mainz on Tuesday after learning that the struggling Bundesliga club wants to bring back his predecessor.

Schroder asked out of his contract, which was to run until 2024, Mainz chairman Detlev Hohne said.

''The supervisory board has accepted this decision with regret because we would have very much liked to retain Rouven Schroder's competence and expertise at our club. He has fought tirelessly for Mainz in recent years and has been instrumental in keeping the club on course in difficult times,'' Hohne said.

There had been speculation that Mainz was about to fire its coach Jan-Moritz Lichte after one win from 11 games in charge, but Schroder's departure proved the reason behind the club canceling a press conference earlier Tuesday.

Schroder told the club's website it was a difficult decision.

''The club, the team, the staff and the city have grown close to my heart over the past few years, and that's not something you can easily give up,'' said Schroder, who hinted that his position had become compromised.

''I have to stand behind what I do 100 percent. I had the feeling that it is better for the club and for me to move on so that Mainz can reposition itself as a whole,'' Schroder said.

Hohne said Mainz had planned for Schroder's predecessor, Christian Heidel, to rejoin its supervisory board alongside Schroder, but that the latter's decision to leave has caused Heidel to reconsider.

There is little doubt that the 57-year-old Heidel will return, however.

Heidel served as Mainz's manager or sporting director from 1992 to 2016, overseeing its rise to the Bundesliga and appointing previously little-known coaches Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel, now at Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain, respectively. Heidel had less success at Schalke, which he left in 2019.

Mainz plays second-tier Bochum in the German Cup on Wednesday in its last game of 2020. It is second from bottom in the Bundesliga with just six points from 13 games and Lichte is expected to be next to depart the club.

Lichte's predecessor, Achim Beierlorzer, was fired in September when players boycotted training amid a dispute over the squad status of a popular striker.

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