DFB president Keller willing to resign after making Nazi comparison

By Jan Mies, dpa

The German Football Federation (DFB) said its president, Fritz Keller, is ready to resign as part of a major shake-up at the organization prompted by his comparison of a colleague to a Nazi.

Keller recently apologised for likening DFB vice president Rainer Koch, a judge outside football, with infamous Nazi judge Roland Freisler during a meeting in April. Further details of the comparison are not known.

Keller then lost a no confidence vote from regional chiefs earlier this month. Koch has not accepted Keller’s apology and a storm has continued to brew over the Nazi analogy.

The Nazi judge Freisler attended the Wannsee Conference, which set in motion the Holocaust. Later, he was appointed president of the People’s Court, where he handed down around 2,600 death sentences from 1942 to 1945.

The DFB Sports Court launched an investigation after a report from the ethics committee. A ruling by the court on Keller fate is expected by the end of the month.

Keller has for days resisted resigning, despite a chorus of voices telling him to quit.

But a statement from the DFB said the association has “drawn consequences from the ongoing leadership crisis and set the course for a reorganization.”

In a U-turn, Keller had “declared his willingness, in principle, to make his office available after the conclusion of the trial before the DFB Sports Court, next Monday, May 17,” the statement continued

DFB also announced on Tuesday that the contract of Secretary General Friedrich Curtius would be terminated.

The DFB has been bogged down in a long-standing power struggle between Keller and Curtius, who called the ethics committee to look into the Nazi analogy.

Curtius, who also faces investigations by the Sports Court in cases first handled by the ethics committee, had said that he would be prepared to stand down.

Curtius also lost a no confidence vote by the regional bosses.

The DFB, the largest single sports federation in the world with more than 7 million members, has been scandal ridden for years, most notably concerning the affair around dubious payments in connection with Germany’s hosting of the 2006 World Cup.

Wolfgang Niersbach resigned as DFB president in 2015 over the World Cup affair, and his successor Reinhard Grindel in 2019 over accepting an expensive watch. Keller is Grindel’s successor and his term now seems over as well after Sunday’s vote.

The Bild am Sonntag paper recently reported that the DFB works council in an internal letter said the federation has been giving a “disastrous image” lately and called for “trend-setting decisions.”

“When starting over, both structural and personal consequences cannot be ruled out,” the letter reportedly said.

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