Southgate out? Six managers who were sacked mid-tournament as England fans pray

Jason Soutar
Former Ivory Coast manager Jean-Louis Gasset and England manager Gareth Southgate
Former Ivory Coast manager Jean-Louis Gasset and England manager Gareth Southgate

Some England fans are calling begging for Gareth Southgate to be sacked mid-tournament after a dismal Euro 2024 draw against Denmark, even though a first-place finish in Group C is inevitable.

With that in mind, here are the six times a manager was sacked during, not after, an international tournament. We couldn’t find any more so if you know of one, do let us know in the comments.


Ivory Coast – 2023 Africa Cup of Nations
French manager Jean-Louis Gasset led Ivory Coast into the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations as the hosts and one of the favourites to win the tournament.

After his 18th match in charge of the African giants, Gasset was sacked following an embarrassing 4-0 defeat to Equatorial Guinea, the heaviest home loss in their history. Progression to the last 16 looked extremely slim but Ivory Coast struck gold when Morocco beat Zambia, meaning they went through as one of the best third-placed teams in the group stage. The 2022 World Cup dark horses were their saviour and for that, the Ivorians owe them a lot.

It was a brave move to change managers mid-tournament but it ultimately paid off more than anyone could have dreamed of. Gasset’s assistant Emerse Fae took the reins, knocking out holders Senegal on penalties in the last 16, Mali after extra-time in the quarters and DR Congo in the semi-finals thanks to a Sebastien Haller goal before a comeback 2-1 win against Nigeria in the final, with cancer survivor Haller scoring the winning goal.

Fae was awarded the Best Coach of the 2023 AFCON tournament and remains in charge after bringing the Ivory Coast their fourth continental title. No wonder. Will England be as brave at Euro 2024? Obviously not but it’s fun to sh*t stir.

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Tunisia – 1998 World Cup
The first of three(!) managers to get the boot at the 1998 World Cup, one-time Poland footballer of the year Henryk Kasperczak led Tunisia into the tournament in France after coaching them at the 1996 Summer Olympics.

Kasperczak’s side lost their opening two fixtures to England 2-0 and Colombia 1-0, narrow defeats that would see him lose his job. Perhaps a bit harsh but Tunisia were already out of the World Cup and didn’t want to mess around or prolong the inevitable.

The Pole managed Tunisia again between 2015 and 2017 and also had international management stints with Morocco, Mali, Senegal and then Mali again.


South Korea – 1998 World Cup
Like Kasperczak, South Korea’s manager at the ’98 World Cup, Cha Bum-kun, was sacked when qualification from their group became impossible due to two losses.

They lost 3-1 to a Mexico side including legendary forward Luis Hernandez on matchday one. Hernandez scored two late goals to help the Mexicans secure a comeback victory and all three points at Bum-kun’s expense.

Goals from Phillip Cocu, Marc Overmars, Dennis Bergkamp, Pierre van Hooijdonk and Ronald de Boer secured a whopping 5-0 win for the Netherlands against the South Koreans and that was the final straw for Bum-kun’s superiors as the manager was relieved of his duties.

Kim Pyung-seok replaced him for the final game and managed a 1-1 draw against Belgium as both teams’ tournaments ended. Netherlands would end up finishing fourth and Mexico were knocked out in the last 16, just as they always are.

This is taken from Bum-kun’s Wikipedia so make of it what you will, but it is claimed that he blamed the Korean FA for the poor showing in France, ‘citing a lack of bonuses and alleging pro soccer games in Korea were fixed’. This apparently resulted in a five-year ban from the country and he soon left with his wife.


Saudi Arabia – 1998 World Cup
One of many Carlos Albertos in football managed Saudi Arabia at the very same major tournament. As you are obviously aware, he only managed two games. A 1-0 defeat to Denmark – who had been crowned European champions six years prior – was understandable but losing 4-0 to eventual winners France saw Alberto lose his job.

You will probably remember Alberto as he managed Brazil at the 2006 World Cup but also in 1994, four years before the Saudi failure. He has led five different nations to a World Cup finals in Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait (1982), United Arab Emirates (1990) and South Africa (2010), though we all know the latter qualified as hosts.

Without Alberto, the Middle Eastern country drew 2-2 against South Africa in their final group game. Legendary striker Sami Al-Jaber scored as random ex-Premier League player Shaun Bartlett bagged twice.


Scotland – 1954 World Cup
Scotland’s first manager Andy Beattie technically was not sacked at the 1954 World Cup but instead resigned after the Scottish Football Association only allowed him to take a 13-man squad to Switzerland.

He managed five games and his sixth was supposed to be Scotland’s second at the World Cup against Uruguay. His final game in charge was a 1-0 loss against Austria and his resignation hit the Scotland players hard, losing the next tournament game 7-0 to the holders.

Beattie deemed the job impossible due to the restraints put on him by the SFA and Scotland’s first World Cup ended in tears. He would return to the Hampden Park dugout in 1959 but again resigned a year later.


Nigeria – 1999 Under-20 World Cup
Not a major senior tournament but amusing and worth a mention as the Ivory Coast tale is the only other time a manager was sacked and his replacement took charge of a knockout tie.

Olatunde Disu managed Nigeria when they were runners-up at the 1989 World Youth Championship (now known as the Under-20 World Cup) and was in charge again as they hosted the tournament 10 years on. They drew with Costa Rica in front of 37,000 people (Wikipedia reckons) in the curtain raiser and then beat Germany 2-0 before a shaky 2-1 defeat to Paraguay.

National team manager Thijs Libregts came in to take charge and knocked out Ireland on penalties in the last 16 but lost in the quarter-finals 3-1 to Mali, who won the third-place play-off against Uruguay.

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