Opinion: Reinhard Grindel won’t be missed

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Reinhard Grindel, once the head of German football, has resigned after months of pressure. He failed to live up to his promises or his remit, and his silence on major issues was deafening, DW’s Jonathan Harding writes.

At the end of Reinhard Grindel’s parting statement, the now former DFB (German Football Association) president asked how this had happened. It seems he was a politician to the end. This isn’t really about the watch. This is about Grindel’s inability to do the job he was appointed to do.

Grindel’s downfall was all his own making, although the DFB deserve criticism for appointing a politician as president of the largest sports association in the world. A politician who, during his time as a CDU member of the German Bundestag, said that multiculturalism was a grand illusion.

Grindel walked into a job where his political background was supposed to clean a house covered in corruption dirt. Upon his appointment, Grindel said he wanted to bring transparency and openness back to the DFB. It sounded, as it often does at the start, so promising. Instead, he departs with an apology delivered in a cramped room to a handful of journalists in which he apologized for “confirming the stigma about football executives.”

This man is a former journalist, but thought walking out of an interview was an appropriate way to deal with criticism. He is a former politician, but thinks the head of the DFB accepting a gift from a Ukrainian businessman isn’t problematic. In both professions he has had ample experience of public speaking, but his words do not resonate nor are they accompanied by necessary and correct action. This is a man who preached transparency and openeness, but knelt at the altar of silence and naivety.

Grindel was never right for the job. He never delivered on the values that he promoted at the start, he continually missed the mark in his attempts to lead and it felt like he was never really listening.

In his time in charge, Grindel may have made commerical gains for the association but at what cost? The gap between amateur football and the professional game appears to have widenened, Joachim Löw is in an unhealthy position of power and the DFB’s relationship with the country’s football fans is at an all time low. Then there’s the need for restructuring in youth football and a clear understanding of crisis management. The list goes on.

The state of any organization is often a reflection of the man in charge – and the DFB is in a mess partly because of Grindel. His departure is a positive for German football but only if the DFB makes it one. It is time for the DFB to return to a reality they have long been distant from. Now is the time for considered action, And it starts by appointing the right successor.

DW

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