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Gary White has quit his role as head coach of Hong Kong. Photo: Handout

Gary White quits Hong Kong: new coach leaves post to join Japanese J.League club Tokyo Verdy after just three months in role

  • Head coach guided representative team to victory at EAFF qualifying tournament during three-month spell in charge
  • HKFA now looking for new CEO and team boss

The Hong Kong Football Association has announced the resignation of Gary White as head coach of the men’s representative team.

In a statement published on their website, they said that he will join a Japanese club side.

“Gary has led the Men’s Senior Team to the EAFF E-1 Football Championship Final next December 2019 and has been very professional in the short time he has been at the Association.

“His efforts have been noticed and he has been given the opportunity to join a club in Japan as Head Coach.”

It was announced on the Tokyo Verdy Twitter account that White will be their new manager for next season.

White’s departure was not raised at Monday’s board meeting because he handed his resignation in to chairman Brian Leung in the evening with a better offer on the table from Japan.

The coach’s wife and child are based in the country and he has passed the JFA coaching badges.

Leung, who had no choice but to accept White’s resignation as it was inside a three-month probation period, praised the coach for introducing a “better team spirit” into a new look side in his short time in charge.

The HKFA had planned to release merchandise built around White, with a hooded top including the slogan “Whitevolution” announced as “coming soon” just last week.

White’s departure means that the HKFA are now looking for both a new head coach and CEO in the coming months.

It represents a less than ideal situation for Hong Kong football’s governing body after the fallout from the appointment of White led to questions being asked of the recruitment process in Hong Kong’s Legco last week.

Canny Leung Chi-Shan, the HKFA board member whose resignation and subsequent allegations over White’s appointment led to those questions, has responded to the news on her Facebook.

“That’s why I insist the importance of going through proper procedures and not allowing one staff to take control of everything.

“The selection panel and board have to play a supervision role, not just sitting there and putting up their hands. Now this is the result. This is an important position which has become someone’s stepping stone.

“An organisation with such administration and management mentality cannot find quality people to work together and nobody would like to work with it on a long-term basis.

Hong Kong captain Huang Yang, who White appointed over Yapp Hung-fai, said that he only heard the news after training with his club side Kitchee.

Huang was “surprised” at the news but “fully respects” White’s decision.

“ It will be a big disappointment that we cannot go through the EAFF Championship final together. “Over the past few months, we have been working very well together. Other than the great breakthrough of Hong Kong reaching the EAFF Championship final, I have also learned a lot from him as a coach. I think the HKFA would handle well the selection of his successor.”

The HKFA will go through the recruitment process again and Leung said it will take at least several months.

Hong Kong’s next games will be in the international window in March. A new coach will be appointed before Fifa World Cup qualifiers begin next September.

White has been linked with a coaching job in Japan for some time, with rumours suggesting he would take a head coach role at a J.League 2 club stretching back to before he took the Hong Kong role.

His new club is expected to be announced shortly.

More to follow ...

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: White quits as Hong Kong coach