Fritz Keller case referred to DFB tribunal after Nazi comparison | News | DW | 04.05.2021
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Fritz Keller case referred to DFB tribunal after Nazi comparison

The case of Germany's football association boss, Fritz Keller, will be heard at a tribunal after regional associations called for his exit. Keller had ruled out resigning after comparing a colleague with a Nazi judge.

DFB President Keller (R) und Vice President Koch

Keller (right) earlier said he apologized for his remark about Koch (left) but that he would stay in his post

The fate of the head of Germany's football association (DFB) will be decided by the organization's internal tribunal system. DFB President Fritz Keller recently compared Vice President Rainer Koch to the Nazi judge Roland Freisler.

A statement from the DFB after a meeting on Monday said that the "Freisler statement" had been discussed by its ethics committee, who "submitted the result ... to the sports court (tribunal) for a decision."

German tabloid Bild reported Keller's response as such: "I will take responsibility for my statement before the applicable sports court."

At the end of last week, after a two-day extraordinary meeting, regional and state associations in the DFB had urged Keller to step down after his remarks.

The associations also called for the resignation of its general secretary, Friedrich Curtius. 

Sunday's meeting called Keller's Nazi comparison "completely unacceptable."

"The regional and state associations of the DFB stand for a democratic, tolerant and diverse society. The president's statement is incompatible with the principles and values of the associations."

Keller's leadership has been the subject of infighting of late, and the 64-year-old has been involved in a power struggle with Curtius. Elements of that power struggle were also discussed at Monday's meeting

Vote of no-confidence

A no-confidence vote in Keller from the regional soccer bosses ended 26-9, with two abstentions. Curtius lost a similar vote, according to a DFB statement.

"The presidents of the state and regional associations of the German Football Association withdrew their confidence in President Fritz Keller at the extraordinary conference this weekend in Potsdam and asked him to step down from his position," the DFB statement said.

"The conference also had a vote of no-confidence in general secretary Dr. Friedrich Curtius," the DFB added.

Meanwhile, Koch and treasurer Stephan Osnabrügge both won votes of confidence.

Earlier this week, Keller admitted to having made a "serious mistake" but said he would not leave his post after comparing DFB Vice President Koch with Nazi judge Freisler at a federation meeting on April 23.

Who was Roland Freisler?

Freisler, a participant in the Wannsee Conference of 1942, was one of the Nazis responsible for the organization of the Holocaust.

He became president of the People's Court, where he issued around 2,600 death sentences to opponents of the Nazi regime.

Years of scandal

Keller was appointed head of the DFB in September 2019. The former president of Bundesliga club Freiburg had been seen as the best candidate to help it emerge from years of scandal.

"The only way to further develop German football from the bottom to the top is together, as a team,'' Keller said at the time.

Keller's predecessor, Reinhard Grindel, resigned after accepting a luxury watch amid allegations of undeclared earnings and general discontent with his leadership.

Former federation presidents Wolfgang Niersbach and Theo Zwanziger were both forced out amid allegations of corruption concerning Germany's 2006 World Cup bid.

jsi/sms (dpa, AFP, SID)

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified the groups calling for Keller's resignation. We apologize for the error.

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