CORRUPTION: GERMAN FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT, GRINDEL RESIGNS

CORRUPTION: GERMAN FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT, GRINDEL RESIGNS

BY NANCY GILLEN

German Football Association (DFB) President Reinhard Grindel has resigned following allegations of undeclared earnings and the acceptance of a watch as a gift.

Last week, Der Spiegel claimed Grindel had failed to declare additional income of €78,000 (£66,986/$87,243) for being chairman of the DFB’s subsidiary media management company in 2016 and 2017.

DFB issued a statement rejecting the accusations, stating that Grindel had taken the position after he became President and therefore had not needed to declare the additional earnings. 

Grindel came under further scrutiny, however, when Bild reported he had accepted a watch worth around €6,000 (£5,152/€5,364) from Ukrainian oligarch Grigoriy Surkis, a UEFA vice president and executive committee member.

The German’s subsequent resignation marks the end of the shortest Presidential tenure in the DFB’s 114-year history. 

“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,” he said in a press conference. 

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

“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.”

Vice-presidents Rainer Koch and Reinhard Rauball will take over on an interim basis until September. 

The duo also had to step in when Grindel’s predecessor, Wolfgang Niersbach, stepped down in November 2015.

This was due to bribery allegations surrounding Germany’s bid to host the World Cup in 2006.

Niersbach was cleared of the allegations last October. 

Grindel, who was elected DFB President in April 2016 having resigned as a member of the Bundestag to take up the role, has faced controversy during his tenure. 

He was in charge during the scandal surrounding Germany’s Mesut Özil and İlkay Gündoğan at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, the duo having posed for photos with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The fallout saw Özil leave the national team, the playmaker heavily criticising Grindel and claiming he had been made a scapegoat for Germany’s poor performance and a target for racist abuse.

Reinhard Grindel was in charge when controversy emerged surrounding Germany’s Mesut Özil and İlkay Gündoğan during the 2018 FIFA World Cup

Grindel also caused unrest among German football fans, having implemented policies such as Monday night games, late kick-off times and a ban on pyrotechnics.

He did, however, oversee the successful bid for Euro 2024, with Germany beating Turkey to win hosting rights.

Fan groups and supporters criticised the DFB throughout the bid campaign, though, mainly due to stalled talks over fan rights and the commercialisation of the game in Germany.

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