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German FA in turmoil after embattled president steps down

Berlin (AFP) – The German FA (DFB) was in turmoil on Wednesday after its embattled president Fritz Keller said he would step down after comparing his own deputy to a notorious Nazi-era judge.

“President Fritz Keller has made a personal decision…that he is ready in principle to resign,” the DFB said in a statement late Tuesday.

The move came just two days ahead of the DFB’s flagship annual event, the German Cup final, and a month before the European championships. 

Keller sparked outrage and calls for his resignation after likening DFB vice-president Rainer Koch to Roland Freisler, the infamous head of the Nazi party’s court in the 1940s, during a meeting last month.

The 64-year-old later apologised to Koch, acknowledging that his words were “totally inappropriate, notably towards the victims of Nazism”, but ruled out stepping down over the incident.

Yet he is now set to step down next Monday, after facing a DFB tribunal to explain his comments.

Far from settling what appeared to be bitter power struggle between Keller and Koch, the president’s resignation appears to herald a mass clearout of the federation top brass.

In their statement on Tuesday, the DFB announced it was “laying the foundations for a new orientation”.

General secretary Friedrich Curtius was also set to resign, while Koch and treasurer Stephan Osnabruegge would not put themselves up for re-election in 2022, the federation said. 

The changing of the guard in the boardroom comes with the DFB already in the midst of upheaval in its sporting leadership. 

With long-serving national team coach Joachim Loew set to step down after the upcoming European Championship, the DFB are currently in the middle of negotiations to hire Bayern Munich boss Hansi Flick as his successor.

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