DFB President Reinhard Grindel rejects racism accusations | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 26.07.2018
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DFB President Reinhard Grindel rejects racism accusations

DFB President Reinhard Grindel has rejected accusations of racism against both him and the German football association. He also conceded that he had made mistakes in dealing with the Erdogan-Özil affair.

In a statement released by the German football association (DFB) on Thursday, Reinhard Grindel said that he had been "hurt" by the personal attacks on him, which came in response to the controversy that followed former national team player Mesut Özil having his photo taken with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

He also said that he "vehemently rejected" the accusations of racism against both him personally and the DFB as a whole.

"The values of the DFB are also my values. Diversity, solidarity, anti-discrimination and integration are all values and convictions that are very close to my heart," he said.

At the same time, he said that he regretted the fact that the photos that Özil and Germany teammate Ilkay Gündogan had taken with the Turkish president had been used to fuel racist attacks on the two players of Turkish heritage and that both he and the DFB could have handled the resulting controversy better.

"In hindsight, I, as president, should have unequivocally said what for me and the association is obvious: Any form of racial hostility is intolerable," he said.  

In his three-part statement announcing that he was resigning from international football, Özil had accused the DFB president of not backing him in the wake of a wave of public criticism due to his heritage.

"In the eyes of Grindel and his supporters, I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose. This is because despite paying taxes in Germany, donating facilities to German schools and winning the World Cup with Germany in 2014, I am still not accepted into society. I am treated as being 'different,'" read Özil's statement.

In Thursday's statement Grindel also said the DFB would aim to increase its efforts at fostering integration, while at the same time trying to fix what went wrong for the national team at the World Cup in Russia.

Finally, he looked ahead to Euro 2024, which both Germany and Turkey have applied to host.

"This tournament can write a new football story, bring new children into clubs, and bring people together. With or without a migration background, united by football," he said.

Football's European governing body UEFA is to decide in September which of the two countries will host the tournament.