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German FA president resigns over payment and gift scandals

Reinhard Grindel apologised for accepting a €6,000 watch from Hryhoriy Surkis, a UEFA vice-president and honorary president of the Ukrainian football federation.

DFB President Grindel resigns.
DFB President Grindel resigns.
Image: DPA/PA Images

THE BELEAGUERED PRESIDENT of the German Football Association [DFB] Reinhard Grindel today resigned from his position with immediate effect following payment and gift scandals in recent weeks.

“Vice presidents Dr. Rainer Koch and Dr. Reinhard Rauball will head the German FA on an interim basis,” DFB confirmed following the announcement.

They added: “Grindel will carry on in his international roles in the Fifa council and Uefa executive committee – for which he was personally elected – in close coordination with the DFB.”

The organisation say it will now spend the next six months identifying candidates to fill the position.

“I am stepping down from the position of DFB president, and I apologise for my less than exemplary behaviour regarding my acceptance of a watch,” said Grindel.

I did not have any idea how expensive the watch was and it was a grave oversight on my part not to find out. In doing so, I could have avoided the impression that I was acting inappropriately.”

“I am deeply shaken to have to give up my role as DFB president over such an issue,” Grindel said.

I ask myself: why has this happened? I can only say that I was completely convinced that I was doing nothing wrong and that, in the stress of my position, I did not question myself enough.”

Grindel has been under pressure since Germany’s disastrous World Cup campaign last year when the national team crashed out after the group stages.

DFB President Grindel resigns Reinhard Grindel leaving the press conference at the association's headquarters after announcing his resignation. Source: DPA/PA Images

“Reinhard Grindel was always fully dedicated to his work with the DFB and did a great deal for the association, not least regarding our EURO 2024 bid,”  said Dr. Rainer Koch.

We’re very grateful for that and have the utmost respect for his decision. Our goal now is to a find a candidate for both the DFB and DFL that is not part of the current presidential board, someone who is just as committed to grass-roots football as they are to the game’s top level.”

Dr. Reinhard Rauball added: “The pressure on him from different angles has steadily increased in recent weeks, so it was in the interest of German football to take a different path on a personnel front, but also to make way for a new start structurally within the DFB.

“It’s now up to representatives for amateur and professional football to come together and set the course for the future. There are huge challenges ahead for the DFB, not just in a sporting sense, but in terms of our standing in society too.

We need to tackle these challenges with sincerity, empathy and the will to change. The goal always has to be to find the best solutions for German football, regardless of personal interests.”

Controversy

Grindel was singled out by Mesut Ozil, who accused him of overseeing a culture of institutional racism, when the Arsenal midfielder retired from international duty last July.

He has also faced further criticism over a variety of issues in the last few weeks.

In March, he broke off an interview with broadcaster Deutsche Welle after refusing to answer questions about the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

On Friday, magazine Der Spiegel alleged that Grindel had kept quiet about €78,000 of income which he had received from a DFB subsidiary in 2016 and 2017.

The DFB responded with a statement saying that Grindel had declared all his income correctly.

On Tuesday, Bild claimed Grindel had accepted the gift of a €6,000 watch from Hryhoriy Surkis, a UEFA vice-president and honorary president of the Ukrainian football federation.

Surkis sat alongside Grindel on the executive committee of European football’s governing body UEFA until last February. Yet Grindel denied that he had been given the watch for political reasons.

“For me this was an entirely private gift which I was bound to accept out of politeness,” he said.

The newspaper has already named ex-Germany and Real Madrid defender Christoph Metzelder, 38, as a possible replacement to head the DFB.

With reporting from © – AFP 2018.

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