KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- Reinhard Grindel has changed his mind and quit his senior roles on the governing bodies of world football federation FIFA and European authority UEFA.
Last week the 57-year-old quit as president of the German national association, the DFB, after revelations about a lack of clarity over his earnings and his acceptance of a luxury watch.
The scandal climaxed an increasingly turbulent reign by the former Bundestag deputy for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU which had seen him blunder over the past year from one leadership crisis to another.
Grindel, once a ZFD television journalist, had insisted last week that he intended to remain as a vice-president of UEFA and a council member of FIFA. However he has now been persuaded that, as a lame duck delegate, he should quit the international game altogether for the sake of the credibility of both bodies.
His two posts at FIFA and UEFA earned him around €500,000-a-year.
It is understood that a discussion with UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin was decisive in Grindel’s departure which means he is unlikely to face ethics panel investigations by both world and European federations.
Grindel, in a statement, said: “Today, in a letter to UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, I explained my reasons for submitting my resignation as a UEFA vice-president and as a member of the FIFA Council.
“It was inexplicably naïve of me not to immediately report the gift [of a luxury watch] to the responsible compliance officer. I take responsibility for that at national and international level and, out of particular concern for UEFA’s reputation, I also do not want to burden FIFA’s progress towards achieving more transparency and good governance. ”
He has denied any wrongdoing over his financial arrangements during his three years at the head of the DFB, the self-proclaimed ‘largest sports association in the world.’
Grindel had taken over at the DFB in 2016, promising a new era of clarity and transparency after both predecessors, Theo Zwanziger and then Wolfgang Niersbach, had fallen from grace over the 2006 World Cup bid scandal.
He had announced that he would be paid a monthly wage of €14,400. However it emerged later that he was due a further €78,000 for the chairmanship of the DFB Medien GmbH subsidiary.
The final nail in his DFB coffin was a media report that he had accepted the gift of a luxury watch as a birthday present from controversial Ukrainian businessman and former domestic FA supremo Grigory Surkis.
Grindel’s one lasting achievement was in leading Germany’s successful bid last year to win host rights to the finals of the European Championship in 2024.
However his DFB colleagues were upset by Grindel’s poor handling of the Mesut Ozil controversy before and after last year’s disastrous World Cup in Russia then over his comments concerning last month’s national team axing of veterans Mats Hummel, Thomas Muller and Jerome Boateng.
Memories of Germany’s highly-praised hosting of the World Cup in 2006 have been tarnished by a scandal over mystery payments which brought judicial, tax and FIFA investigations into the leadership roles played by bid leader Franz Beckenbauer and senior DFB officials Zwanziger, Niersbach and Horst R Schmidt.
Beckenbauer, Zwanziger and Niersbach are all past members of the executive committees of both FIFA and UEFA.
Grindel had promised to put all of that right. Instead he has plunged the DFB even further into crisis.
His failure will have international consequences beyond his own personal exit.
UEFA has lost a voting member of the FIFA Council at a delicate time in the world body’s existence and must decide whether to organise an election in the autumn or wait until next year’s annual congress.
Until recent years Germany has always prided itself of being a major player within the world game although no German has been president of FIFA. Such stature will take a lot of rebuilding.