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Deutschland DFB-Präsident Reinhard Grindel
Image: Getty Images/Bongarts/B. Streubel

Reinhard Grindel: 'I'll stay true to myself'

April 4, 2017

German FA President Reinhard Grindel was voted into both the council of FIFA and the executive committee of UEFA on Wednesday. In an exclusive interview with DW, he revealed his plans.


DW: Mr. Grindel, you have said you want to speak plainly in international committees. Is that still a possibility after the next set of votes or do you have to be more careful?

Reinhard Grindel: The new UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin also speaks plainly. I believe the culture of discussion has changed. There's a completely different atmosphere for the members of the executive committee to share their perspectives - one where not everything is dominated by a president and his administration.

So that means you'll also bang on the table if necessary?

You have to do that if the situation calls for it and your own point can be made credibly. I will do that in UEFA and FIFA and will stay true to myself, but you can't always bang your head against the same wall. At the end of the day, you need majorities - so a bit of diplomacy doesn't hurt.

Is there a special project that the name Reinhard Grindel will be associated with?

The 2024 Euros will play a big role. We have the stadiums and the infrastructure. A European championship in Germany would be economical and ecologically viable. These are two pivotal points for large sporting events at the moment. At our games the freedom of the press would also be guaranteed. UEFA will also be aware of that.

You're referring to Turkey, the only competition that the German FA has. The relationship between Germany and Turkey is not without tension of late. Will that affect Euro 2024?

The football associations of both countries are working well together. We support Servet Yardimci in his application for a seat in the UEFA executive. I've been told by the Turkish side that they're going to vote for me. We work well together in a number of different areas. The current political situation has absolutely no effect on the relationship between the two associations. I hope it stays that way.

So freinds won't become foes through the bid process?

We will focus on ourselves during the bid. We have good stadiums so I hope our work and our bid are supported. We will promote ourselves and not [run a campaign] against our competitors.

German media are still talking about the awarding of the 2006 World Cup. The latest results suggest that that World Cup was indeed purchased. How do you justify that Germany should host the next tournament?

In all discussions with presidents of other European football associations, this topic hasn't been important. They know our internal reforms. They know our aspiration to prepare our Euro bid transparently and with the engagement of NGOs. In that sense, I don't see any negative effects arising from the prosecution investigation or in the future.

From 2018 onwards, the UEFA Nations League is a new format that will be introduced. Is football not reaching a saturation point? Germany games are already not selling out...

The Nations League doesn't mean any extra games. These games are taking place instead of friendlies. It's a new competition we've created so that friendlies also mean something. I think it will lead to a good response among attendances.

From UEFA to FIFA. Around a year ago, Gianni Infantino was elected president and all the talk was about a new FIFA. Not much has happened since the reforms though. How are you approaching the council?

The most important thing is that we don't stay isolated in  Europe, that we connect with Asia and Africa. I did that with trips to Kuala Lumpur and Johannesburg. Our plans for transparency and compliance were heard. You know that there, sponsors and TV rights holders are looking at FIFA to see how they develop. Are they credible or will they fall back into the old structures? That will depend on economic success, not just sporting. A lot of associations in Asia and Africa are dependent on economic success.

There's a new study on doping that reveals some troubling facts. Apparently, 43 percent of Bundesliga players this season have not been tested once. Is doping in football underestimated?

No. I am all for doing all we can to find drug takers. We have an agreement with NADA (National Anti-Doping Agency), who handle the investigations, blood tests and training tests. I have spoken to their managers. NADA have to tell us if they think we aren't doing enough - and then we'll do more. We're ready for that.

Reinhard Grindel has been President of the German FA (DFB) since April 2016. After studying law, Grindel worked as a TV journalist. From 2002 onwards he was an MP for the CDU for 14 years in the German Bundestag.

This interview was conducted by Herbert Schalling.

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