At the end there was a sentence that the failed president himself had refuted in his anger looking back. “It was an honor for me to serve football to the best of my ability,” said Fritz Keller, concluding his written farewell to the German Football Association (DFB). That it was really an honor for the 64-year-old can be highly doubted after Keller’s frustrated all-round blow against his opponents on the day of his resignation. Keller, who with his departure drew the consequences of the Nazi scandal he had caused, denounced a “desolate leadership situation” in more than 800 words on Monday. “My misconduct occurred in an environment that was shameful for the DFB,” he wrote: “My resignation will not solve the problems within the DFB and football, however.”
Walls within the association
Keller is therefore calling for a “staff renewal at the top” – and thereby referring to his internal opponents. »The DFB has to change. He has to regain his credibility, his trust in his integrity and performance, “he emphasized:” In this situation, I was unable to achieve trustworthy, reliable and collegial cooperation within the DFB committees. “That had” with proper association management Nothing to do”. Keller had encountered resistance and walls “within the DFB” “in every phase” of the implementation of his principles.
After the end of Keller, the first two Vice-Presidents Rainer Koch (amateurs) and Peter Peters (professionals) are to lead the crisis-plagued association on an interim basis until the Bundestag is brought forward at the beginning of next year. Who should become president is completely open. From the new management, Keller demanded “the clarification of all possible irregularities and misconduct” by “external” specialists. They are supposed to do what Keller couldn’t. As the 13th president of the world’s largest individual sports association, he was at the top for only 598 days – the former head of SC Freiburg came as a bearer of hope and leaves as a failed one. His predecessors Wolfgang Niersbach and Reinhard Grindel, who also had to take their hats prematurely, shared this fate.
Keller’s tenure was marked by an ongoing power struggle in the hopelessly divided leadership. There were also investigations by the judiciary against association officials and the problems as a result of the corona pandemic. He did not manage to clear up the numerous inconsistencies within the DFB. Even in the scandal surrounding the 2006 World Cup, Keller was unable to provide any new facts, although he had announced this over and over again for months. In the end, he was no longer acceptable because he had compared his deputy Koch in a meeting with the notorious Nazi judge Roland Freisler. For this reason, Keller was the first DFB president to answer before the association’s internal sports court. A judgment is expected in the coming days.
Wishes of the base
In addition to Keller, General Secretary Friedrich Curtius is also expected to leave the DFB. The contract of Keller’s adversary must first be terminated. Treasurer Stephan Osnabrügge only wants to remain in office until the Bundestag. Koch will then also make his office available, but the controversial functionary will probably remain in the presidium. As the only member of the powerful executive committee, Peters, who is also criticized, is to keep his office. For Keller there is no question that Curtius, Osnabrügge and Koch have to leave. “The DFB must maintain its independence from people who are accused in various public prosecutor’s investigations – the suspicion of innocence of those affected would not be affected,” he said.
Without future. Fritz Keller has raised himself to the challenges of a DFB president
“It is good that it is not tied to just one person, Fritz Keller, but that it affects several people,” said Hermann Winkler, head of the Northeast German Football Association: “That also corresponds to the wishes of many club representatives and the grassroots.” To establish a different culture at the DFB, calls for a larger proportion of women at the top are also getting louder. “We need the experience, the competence of women,” said Winkler. Hannelore Ratzeburg is the only woman on the presidium. The regional and state associations are run exclusively by men. SID/nd