FRANKFURT: Theo Zwanziger’s resignation as president of the Deutscher Fussball-Bund, the German football federation, is apparently being rushed forward to Friday, March 2.
The sportsmagazine Kicker is reporting that an extraordinary meeting of the DFB Council has been summoned for that date to ratify the handover from Zwanziger to current general secretary Wolfgang Niersbach.
Zwanziger, whose original decision to stand down next October was surprise enough, said: “After considering the entire situation, I have come to the conclusion that it is better for the DFB and also for me, personally, to resolve the situation at the head of the federation as soon as possible.”
Informal discussions behind the scenes over the past month led to the conclusion that the DFB’s position within FIFA and UEFA, and in negotiations with the German league, would have been weakened by a power failure.
Zwanziger took over as president in the wake of Germany’s successful hosting of the 2006 World Cup. In fact he had effectively ousted long-serving predecessor Gerhard Mayer-Vorfelder in 2005 but ‘MV’ was kept on as joint president in a diplomatic gesture acknowledging his service to the domestic game.
He became a member of the FIFA executive committee at the start of June as a representative of the European federation in succession to Franz Beckenbauer and has been appointed by the world federation to lead the diplomatically delicate task of a statutes revision.
However his DFB reign has been marked by a potentially damaging row with Joachim Low over the renewal of the coach’s contract in the run-up to the 2010 World Cup finals and a string of refereeing scandals including, most recently, allegations of officials evading taxes.
Zwanziger has been a high-profile critic of the decision by FIFA, in December 2010, to award the 2022 World Cup finals to Qatar.
Niersbach, born on November 30, 1950, in Nettesheim, began on the sports ladder as a journalist who spent 15 years covering football and ice hockey for the Sport-Informations-Dienst agency. He edited the match magazine of Fortuna Düsseldorf Fortuna and then ‘crossed over’ as press chief of the 1988 European Championship finals in Germany. He stayed on with the DFB as official spokesman and media director before becoming vice-president and media director for the 2006 World Cup.
Immediately after the finals Niersbach succeeded Bernd Pfaff as director of the DFB and maintained his steady rise in October 2007 when he was confirmed by the DFB Council as successor to Horst R Schmidt as general secretary – one of the most powerful national positions in European football.