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Freiburg chief set to assume DFB presidency

Fritz Keller, president of Bundesliga club SC Freiburg, is poised to take up the same position at the German Football Association (DFB) after being nominated as the only candidate for the role.

Keller, who has led Freiburg since 2010, was the only name put forward by a DFB commission charged with finding the replacement for Reinhard Grindel, who resigned in April.

The 62-year-old Keller will be proposed to the local and regional associations on August 21, before being officially nominated ahead of the September 27 election. He has been a member of the German Football League’s (DFL’s) supervisory board since 2016. Keller has said he will resign as Freiburg president should he assume the DFB leadership role.

Rainer Koch, DFB first vice-president and member of the selection committee, said: “Fritz Keller is undoubtedly an extraordinary personality with all the qualities for the office of the DFB president.

“He has decades of experience with close links to professional and amateur football, including women’s football. He can bring people together, represent the entire spectrum of German football and, in particular, equally represent the interests of professional and amateur football.”

Reinhard Rauball, DFB first vice-president and a fellow member of the selection committee, added: “In view of the great challenges facing the DFB currently, Fritz Keller is the right candidate to lead the largest sports association in the world into the future.”

Grindel tendered his resignation as president of the DFB after coming under increasing pressure following allegations of undeclared earnings, the receipt of a luxury watch and general unhappiness at his leadership.

Grindel was elected as permanent president of the DFB in November 2016 after serving in the role on a caretaker basis since April that year. His mandate had been due to run through 2019. During his resignation announcement Grindel apologised for his actions while maintaining he only recently discovered the true value of the watch.

Grindel accepted the watch, worth around €6,000 ($6,674) from Ukrainian oligarch Hryhoriy Surkis – a Uefa vice-president and executive committee member at the time. He was also accused by German magazine Der Spiegel of failing to declare additional income of €78,000 for serving as chairman of the DFB’s media management subsidiary in 2016 and 2017, in addition to his regular salary as president.

The DFB presidency has become a poisoned chalice of late. Grindel took over the presidency from Wolfgang Niersbach, who was forced to resign in November 2015 amid allegations of vote-rigging for Germany’s successful bid for the 2006 World Cup and a payment to world football’s governing body Fifa that led to a separate probe.

The Swiss Attorney General’s (OAG) office last week confirmed that charges have been filed by prosecutors in the country against three former DFB executives in relation to a payment linked with the 2006 World Cup.

Prosecutors claim that ex-DFB presidents Theo Zwanziger and Niersbach, as well as former senior official Horst Schmidt, fraudulently misled members of the supervisory body of the tournament’s organising committee in April 2005 about the true purpose of a €6.7m payment.

In the indictment, the OAG alleges that Schmidt, Zwanziger and Swiss former Fifa official Urs Linsi jointly committed fraud, while Niersbach was complicit in fraud. The four men have denied any wrongdoing.