DFB president Fritz Keller resigns after Nazi comments against vice-president

Keller, who took over as president of the DFB in September 2019, was already marred with scandals over irregular payments.

Fritz Keller in a file photo. (Image: Twitter/ German football team)

German FA President Fritz Keller resigned from his position on Monday after comparing vice-president Rainer Koch to infamous Nazi judge Roland Freisler during an earlier board meeting. A secret ballot was subsequently held where Germany’s football chiefs declared a vote of no confidence against the 64-year-old. Keller had expressed his desire to stand down after a hearing at the DFB Sports Court last week and has now released an official statement confirming his resignation. Keller, who took over as president of the DFB in September 2019, was already marred with scandals over irregular payments. However, the outgoing president also stated that major changes were the need of the hour in the DFB. Germany’s top football body has been in turmoil ever since Keller’s comments.

“As announced, I step down from the post as president for a deep-rooted and necessary restart,” Keller said. “With this, I take on the responsibility for my derailment in the board meeting of April 23 that should remain the low point in the desolate leadership situation of the DFB,” he added.

Keller had referred to vice-president Koch as Freisler, who was a judge in Nazi Germany. Freisler was a participant at the 1942 conference at which the Nazis had laid out their “final solution” for the eradication of Jewish people.

“DFB MUST CHANGE”

However, the outgoing president did not hold back. He said that the DFB needed major changes and that his resignation would not solve the board’s current problems. He said that there was an urgent need for change and acknowledged that he himself was faced with resistance as he attempted to reform the DFB.

“The DFB must change. It must win back credibility, trust in its integrity and performance,” Keller said. “Changes should be an important, necessary part of the short-term agenda of the DFB,” he concluded.

General Secretary Freidrich Curtius will also leave the DFB. The decision is interesting because Curtius was involved in a rather arduous battle with Keller over control of the DFB. As of now, vice-president Koch will be interim president but will not take over as the permanent president.

Keller’s predecessors have not been exempted from public scrutiny either, as they have all been involved in some sort of a scandal. Reinhard Grindel, Keller’s immediate predecessor, had to step down from the position after accepting a luxury watch as a gift from a Ukrainian businessman. The two before him, Wolfgang Niersbach and Theo Zwanziger, were also investigated and indicted in Switzerland over a payment for the 2006 World Cup that was hosted in Germany.




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Sportslumo Desk

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