Reinhard Grindel believes the German FA (DFB) should look to France and Belgium for ways to improve. He also "regrets" the fact that Mesut Özil did not feel he was protected by the DFB before his resignation.
In the most recent edition of the DFB Journal, the official magazine of the German national team, president Reinhard Grindel penned a letter saying he was hoping for a "new start," in the aftermath of a disastrous World Cup result and the controversy of Mezut Özil's retirement from the national team.
Stopping short of an apology, Grindel spoke again about his fallout with the Arsenal player, expressing regret that Özil didn't feel protected by him and his organization.
"We need a new start, on the athletic and personal levels," the DFB chief wrote. He prefaced his thoughts on the direction of the organization by reminding readers of what the German national team had achieved since 2006.
DFB doubles down on Löw
Grindel praised what he considered an "exemplary structure" that permeates the German development organization programs at the lowest levels, the Bundesliga and the national squad. He added that the disappointing result at the 2018 World Cup in Russia was cause for profound reflection, but felt that change was best brought on by the current leadership.
"The board of the DFB is convinced that our national coach Jogi Löw has the necessary motivation, strength and competence to shape this change," Grindel said. To stress this point, the DFB boss pointed to the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2017, where Löw built a national team with less experience that "played a refreshing football that we missed at the World Cup."
But the DFB needs to improve its cooperation between the national, league and club levels in the future, Grindel said. He supported focusing on bringing in more "specialist" players who have expertise in one specific position on the field, as opposed to those who can play multiple positions, the same way the Belgian and French organizations have done.
Players must uphold core values
On the topic of racism and players of different backgrounds, Grindel said it was necessary to protect players from racist attacks. "I regret very much that Mezut Özil had the feeling that the DFB and I personally did not do enough to protect him," Grindel added.
"We win together and we lose together, it would be erroneous to hold any one player responsible for the failure in Russia," Grindel said, rejecting the idea that Özil had been singled out.
The DFB boss said that he understood that players must uphold their culture and religion, but he reiterated the organization's position that national team players should still honor the values of Germany, grounded in the country's law, human rights, freedom of speech, tolerance and fair play.
The debate over the intersection of identity, politics and football in Germany is not likely to be over any time soon. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is set to travel to Berlin on September 28 and 29, for a state visit that includes meetings with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The meeting will be an opportunity for leaders of both countries to discuss their differences. President Erdogan has been vocal in his support for Özil, in the aftermath of his resignation, and denounced racism towards the Turkish population in Germany. Chancellor Merkel on the other hand, has limited herself to thanking him for his contributions to German football.
jcg/mp (dpa, SID)