Ute Groth on her spontaneous application for the vacant presidency.
Ute Groth hardly had any chances when she sent her unsolicited application for the vacant presidency in the DFB. In addition, Ute Groth, 60, a construction planner and honorary president of the DJK TuSA 06 Düsseldorf with 1400 members, is too much of a realist. But she wanted to give the amateur clubs more hearing in the German Football Association – and encourage a debate over the occupation of the top post. Whether the DFB has dealt with their application, Groth has not learned. The only thing is clear: On August 21, the association wants to present its candidate for the office, the election is scheduled for September 27. Regardless of the outcome, changes are needed, believes Ute Groth.
SZ: Mrs Groth, the Aktionsgemeinschaft "Save the Amateur Clubs" has just spoken out for you as DFB President. As a club president you would know the "worries and hardships" better than most officials, it is said. But is not that too late?
Groth: They support my candidacy, that's nice. But that really does not make sense anymore, I no longer need the campaigning assistance. The topic of my candidacy had obviously done for the DFB so from the beginning. On August 1, an application had to be sent by name to the DFB-Bundestag. And since none of the DFB has contacted me, I do not suppose that I belong to the candidates.
But you certainly do not know whether you are on the shortlist of candidates that the DFB has created?
No. That's a secret thing. I had two contacts with the DFB: Right at the beginning after my application in May. And then there was a personal contact with Mr. Rainer Koch, the DFB Vice President, at the Verbandstag Niederrhein in June. He told me that the office of DFB President was a very important item, it was about a lot of money, because you would have to be a business professional, that would be the least daring. I interpreted that as: They think you are too small a light.
Were you proposed by your national association for candidacy? That would have been the prerequisite.
I approached the national association. The application was submitted on time, but was not heard on the day in question. The process is a bit intransparent.
On the other hand, you must have hit a nerve. Otherwise, there would be, inter alia, the election call of the Aktionsgemeinschaft "Save the amateur clubs" to the former Unterhachinger club boss Engelbert Kupka not.
That so much feedback came from the base actually surprised me. Especially since my application in the first two weeks so was not publicly known; At the beginning I only told the club colleague, then a regional newspaper took up the topic here in Düsseldorf – and suddenly reactions of people came from the amateur clubs from all over Germany. At least in the long term, we want to build up a nationwide network of clubs that are on the same wavelength. The tenor was almost always the same: First, there is the feeling that the processes at the DFB are no longer transparent. On the other hand, the concern that the amateurs no longer feel represented by the DFB. Almost 25,000 amateur clubs and 56 professional clubs are organized by the men in the DFB. The main focus, however, is on the professional sector, where the money is implemented. That is, it's all about the glitter and glamor, but not about what's going on at the base.
Presumably, the base no longer understands why the DFB presidents are not at the top. Theo Zwanziger shortened his term, Wolfgang Niersbach drew the consequences of the summer fairytale scandal in 2006, and in April Reinhard Grindel retired because of a gifted clock.
I have also taken the reactions: What annoys the people is the Klüngel at the head of the DFB. From the club level, it looks like this: We all need role models, we also club chairperson, and if there are inconsistencies at the top, then that is not good for us. Because that has effects on our reputation.
Money alone can not be the fault of many who are dissatisfied. Overall, the DFB and its regional associations invest about 120 million euros per year in amateur football.
Yes, that's on the homepage. But what are they doing with it? They offer training courses, have websites offering training sessions, and it's great to be on fussball.de now gets all the amateur results. But that does not help in the daily work with our teenagers! We have to organize the games, find the instructors, pay for the training, pay penalties and contributions. If the DFB bus comes by every seven years, then they inspire 20 young people. I find the topic difficult.
Where would your club, the DJK TuSA 06 Düsseldorf, hope for concrete help?
In Germany, many clubs are now 100 years old, because there is a lack of infrastructure. Of course, the DFB does not have to make sure that our facilities are rehabilitated, as the cities and towns help. But he could intervene helpfully. If you have a great project in the club and want to strengthen, for example, the girls' football and needs additional cabins: Why can not you make a direct application for funding at the DFB?
And you're out
His last three presidents have prematurely lost the German Football Association (DFB). Theo Zwanziger, in office from 2004, handed over in 2012 – also in the light of increasing criticism of his appearance – prematurely to Wolfgang Niersbach. But Niersbach then already stumbled in November 2015 on the summer fairy tale affair surrounding the 2006 World Cup. His successor Reinhard Grindel, in turn, held only until April 2019. After various awkwardness in his term, Grindel stumbled upon the adoption of a luxury watch.
Did the DFB talk to you about your ideas after applying?
At the beginning, the Human Resources Department of the DFB wrote back that my application was received, that the Swiss Personnel Consultancy Egon Zehnder should seek a suitable candidate; I should please agree to pass on my documents. That was the one contact. Then I had questions about the statute, how to get on a candidate list, and a lawyer of the DFB has phoned me.
The DFB has just announced a structural reform that will restrict the presidency. Between economic and charitable tasks should be separated more clearly. What do you think: is this the right way?
This means that the office of the DFB President will be curtailed. Which of the two then has an influence on the distribution of funds? Personally, I think division of tasks would be better than cutting skills, a dual point in which one person takes care of the amateur section and another one the professional section – in close collaboration, with beautiful interlocking and good ideas. In a classic club you basically work that way and that works.
They had given themselves only a minimal chance at the presidential poll from the beginning. They wanted to give the DFB also food for thought and provoke. Has that succeeded?
I think so. It has never happened – I observe that for a while – that in the run-up to a DFB presidential election there was a public debate about who is coming into office and what he should be able to do.
Secret, the candidate list is still!
Yes, but at least now I've heard the question: What do you actually have for a program? This has never been debated before. Also that one deals now with who the delegates are, how the procedure runs – there, I think, I have already done quite a good job.
It was at least talked about what in 119 years DFB has never been – namely a woman as president.
Yes, but football is still a male domain. That's why I do not find that surprising. It is rather surprising that somebody volunteered from below, from the base. With me that was quite spontaneous: After the resignation of Mr. Grindel I sat on the couch and got angry. That's why I wanted to get involved, wanted to do something. Then I read in the Sueddeutsche a comment that said that for the DFB presidency no study of rocket science is needed. So I thought: why are they looking for only in football circles? Everyone can do that.
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