German football federation hands reins to new president | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 02.03.2012
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German football federation hands reins to new president

German football witnessed a changing of the guard with federation president Theo Zwanziger handing over responsibility to his successor, Wolfgang Niersbach, at a meeting in Frankfurt.

The German Football Federation (DFB) elected Wolfgang Niersbach as its new president at a special meeting at the sporting body’s headquarters in Frankfurt on Friday.

The 61-year-old Niersbach takes over from Theo Zwanziger, who had announced his intention to step down last year.

"I hearby resign from my post as DFB president, effective immediately, and I wish my successor, Wolfgang Niersbach all of the luck in the world," the 66 year-old Zwanziger told the 260 delegates at the meeting " Everything has its time and my time as DFB boss is over," he added.

The event was attended by representatives from politics, society and the football community, including former national team players.

Niersbach's appointment had been expected after Zwanziger designated him as his chosen successor.

German football legend and former DFB Vice President Franz Beckenbauer threw his support behind Niersbach, describing him as a gentleman and someone to lead potential German bids to host the 2020 or 2024 European Championships.

Niersbach has held numerous positions within the DFB going back to 1987, when he began as a spokesperson and press chief for what is the largest sports federation in the world with 6.7 million members. He was also vice president of the organizing committee for the 2006 World Cup in Germany, and served most recently as DFB secretary general.

Niersbach is also a trained journalist and former editor with Germany's Sports Information Service agency.

From initial statements, it seems German football can expect much of the same with Niersbach as under Zwanziger. "The DFB certainly does not need a revolution," Niersbach commented recently. "We're set up very well and are financially independent."

There is little concern the DFB will take a backwards step under Niersbach, who inherits tasks such as addressing increasing incidents of stadium rioting.

"This is certainly the most difficult task that we need to tackle," said Niersbach. "I think fan support in Germany is exemplary. But there is one group that is not being reached with prevention work. In this case, only punitive measures will work."

dfm/ncy (AFP, dpa)