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German FA boss quits over expensive gift

GERMAN Football Association President Reinhard Grindel resigned yesterday after apologising for accepting an expensive watch from a Ukrainian colleague as a gift, although he said he had not known its value.

Grindel, who took over the world’s biggest sports federation by membership in 2016, had come under pressure over reports about income he received from a DFB subsidiary and about a watch he had been given by Ukrainian businessman and soccer administrator Grigory Surkis.

“Everyone who knows me knows that I am not greedy. The price of the watch was 6,000 euros. I did not know the brand or its value at the time,” Grindel said in a brief statement to reporters.

“Mr Surkis had no intention to use this with the DFB. He never asked me for any support. It was a private gift with no relation to the Ukraine federation or commercial enterprises. It was a matter of politeness to accept it.

“I cannot explain why I did not take action for swift clarity. I am stunned by my mistake. I resign as DFB president. I apologise for my less-than-exemplary action of accepting the watch.”

The DFB, which will host the Euro 2024 tournament, said vice presidents Rainer Koch and Reinhard Rauball would be an interim solution until elections in September.

Grindel, a former journalist and conservative CDU Member of Parliament, had also been in the spotlight after a Spiegel report identified a 78,000 euro income he had received from a DFB subsidiary that had not been made public.

He is also a UEFA Executive Committee member and a FIFA Council member. He took over at the DFB from Wolfgang Niersbach, who was forced to resign amid allegations of vote-rigging for the 2006 World Cup and a payment to world soccer’s governing body FIFA that led to a separate investigation.

Grindel had virtually no international experience in football when he took over the role. But he oversaw the DFB-commissioned investigation in the 2006 affair that found no proof of vote-buying but could not explain the million-dollar payment via FIFA that eventually landed with a senior FIFA official. – Reuters

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