Troubled Times for German Sport

(ATR) The presidents of the two most important German sports organizations are on the verge of being ousted.

(ATR) The fish stinks from the head - this phrase currently describes German sports. The presidents of the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB), Alfons Hörmann, and the German Football Association (DFB), Fritz Keller, are on the verge of being thrown out. The final phase of this crisis in the two most important German sports organizations has been initiated shortly before the major events EURO 2020 and Tokyo 2020.

According to Hörmann, the DOSB's ethics council led by former German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière will deal with the accusations against Hörmann on Wednesday. The 60-year-old sports official does not want to rest in his office until the allegations have been clarified.

In an open letter, unnamed employees of the DOSB had reported a culture of fear, great psychological pressure by Hörmann and a very lax handling of coronavirus regulations had been reported. Although the presidium and executive board had expressed their confidence in him, there had been calls over the weekend from politicians and federations for the resignation of Germany's top sports official, who is playing for time.

"Our goal will be to answer all the points clearly, openly and transparently," Hörmann said. He added, he was affected by the accusations personally as well as the entire presidium and the board.

However, the accusations do not seem to be completely without substance because Hörmann announced that he wanted to create a different climate in the DOSB. The accusations are backed up by statements from Thomas Dieckhoff, the former managing director of Deutsche Sport Marketing (DSM), who said in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Monday "With Mr. Hörmann, I personally always felt the pressure as negative, as stress. It was threatening, unsettling and did not help to contribute to creating a positive, motivating work atmosphere for me personally."

The dispute over Hörmann comes at an inopportune time for the DOSB. After all, the umbrella organization should now be dealing with the planning for Tokyo 2020 and the pandemic measures.

A power struggle is raging in the German Football Association between President Fritz Keller on the one side and Vice President Rainer Koch, Treasurer Stephan Osnabrügge and General Secretary Friedrich Curtius on the other. This is the dispute between the amateur and professional camps and it is paralyzing the world's largest sports federation in dealing with the effects of the Corona pandemic.

Keller was responsible for the latest escalation. The 64-year-old federation president had compared Koch in April at a presidency meeting with Nazi judge Roland Freisler. Keller must now appear at the sports court to answer for this. The heads of the regional and state associations are demanding his resignation regardless of the outcome of the proceedings. The regional leaders also withdrew their confidence in General Secretary Friedrich Curtius.

Quarrels at the top of the association are now the order of the day "This theater has been going on since the summer fairy tale, that is, for about six years. Since then, three presidents have seen the red card and had to go," scolded Bayern Munich boss Karl-Heinz Rummenigge on pay TV channel Sky.

He put the blame on the entire presidium. "The gentlemen who were not DFB president, who were there in the background have done their mischief, must slowly ask themselves, whether it is still fair to soccer, what is happening there." Rummenigge said the DFB must now consider how it can return to harmony, loyalty and quality.

Not only Keller, but also Koch, who has been heavily criticized, is clinging to his chair. The 62-year-old judge ruled out any personal consequences from the years of squabbling. Koch, who has been vice president of the association since 2007, rejected the accusation that he was the king killer of German soccer in view of the numerous presidential resignations in recent years.

Anti-corruption expert Sylvia Schenk from Transparency International has already offered her help. "I can imagine having a transition team take over the roles; that should be possible to do according to the statutes. Then there would be a year and a half until the regular Bundestag in the fall of clear up the things that need to be cleared up and to bring calm to the store," Schenk said.

Because of the leadership crisis in the DFB, there is now also pressure from sponsors Adidas and Volkswagen.

"Unfortunately, the internal leadership squabbles do not cast the DFB in a good light," said Adidas spokesman Oliver Brüggen. Volkswagen also called on the federation to get a grip on the situation. "The DFB is currently suffering internally from infighting among officials and externally from a progressive loss of credibility," the Braunschweiger Zeitung quoted from a statement.

Homepage photo: Wikimedia Commons

Written and reported by Piet Kreuzer

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