U.S. Men’s National Team coach Jurgen Klinsmann discusses his connection to fans through Facebook Live.

By Diamond Leung
November 15, 2016

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U.S. Men’s National Team coach Jurgen Klinsmann has been busy coaching the Americans through the final round of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, but he has also found time to use Facebook Live as a platform to give fans his thoughts and perspectives.

Before the U.S. lost 2–1 to rival Mexico on Friday, Klinsmann revealed the roster for the in an exclusive on Facebook Live with FOX Soccer’s Facebook page. Even after the disappointing loss, the 52-year-old Klinsmann was back on his own Facebook page spending nearly half an hour answering questions from fans in real time in advance of Tuesday’s qualifier at Costa Rica.

Klinsmann has done similar Facebook Live videos throughout the year, giving fans the access to interact with him. SportTechie got an opportunity to chat with Klinsmann as well in this Q&A in which he discusses his strategy behind live streaming.

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SportTechie: You were recently recognized by Facebook for a top-10 standout Facebook Live video of the week when you answered fan questions about everything from player injuries to what your career would be if not in football (a helicopter pilot!). For you, what makes a good Facebook Live video?

Jurgen Klinsmann: What makes Facebook Live great is the ability to have an open discussion with soccer fans and to have a direct line of communication with them. With this platform, you don’t need to be a journalist to get access to have your questions answered, and I think that’s pretty cool.

ST: What have you learned about the USMNT fan base through your Facebook Lives, and what is the general message that you’d like to get across to those fans by continuously providing Facebook Live video content?

JK: Doing these chats gives me a sense of how detailed their thoughts are on our team. They ask questions about formations, our style of play, individual players, and all sorts of topics. It shows us how engaged they are, and how passionate they are about our sport. In terms of a message, it’s simply that everyone is connected and has a stake in the National Team. In a certain way, the National Team is owned by everyone out there, and their voice is important.

ST: How much does Facebook Live help you get that message across at a time when not very many mainstream outlets have writers dedicated to USMNT coverage?

JK: I think it helps us to keep the discussion going in times when we don’t have games, and sometimes it can be months between when the team gets together. In any country, the National Team is the locomotive of the sport, and we want to people to know what’s going on and what we are thinking.

ST: You’ve said before that fans and media members in the U.S. are starting to care more about the game, and that’s a good thing that results in coaches and players feeling accountable for their performances. From the comments section on Facebook, how much passion can you sense from fans, and how do you deal with negative comments?

JK: Really it just shows how much they care, and that’s so important. For me it’s no problem when people have different opinions. I try to evaluate the critical comments in a productive way, because no one is perfect. Often times the critical comments lead into a lively discussion within our group, so we are definitely listening.

ST: What did you learn about Facebook on your recent trip to the company’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif.?

JK: It’s an absolutely fantastic working environment. It’s an inspiring, young and energetic campus. It makes me wish I was a young student again so I could intern there. The only thing that is missing is a small-sided soccer field!

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