Football column – sham instead of a new beginning for the DFB: The pullers Koch and Peters remain in power

After the announced resignation of President Fritz Keller, the DFB has announced a realignment. But by next year, of all people, Rainer Koch and Peter Peters should reconcile the association and choose a successor. The football column.

It has been around two years since Rainer Koch, Peter Peters and Reinhard Rauball put their heads together in the late hour in the bar of the German Football Museum.

The then DFB President Reinhard Grindel had previously given a short speech at the solemn announcement of the founding eleven of the Hall of Fame of German football, but then quickly fled critical questions through the back door.

The trio in the bar knew what was coming: the next day Grindel resigned after a series of missteps and not even three years in office, the two 1st Vice Presidents Koch and Rauball had to act as interim bosses for the second time after Wolfgang Niersbach’s withdrawal Looking for a successor in 2015.

It was only presented almost euphorically by a headhunting agency and after around four months of searching. “Fritz Keller is without a doubt an extraordinary personality with all the qualities for the office of DFB President,” said Koch at the time. Today, less than 20 months after Keller’s unanimous election, he would certainly no longer choose those words. On the contrary.

DFB: After months of a mud fight, Keller resigns

In a press release on Tuesday evening, the Keller opponents also announced their withdrawal: The full-time Secretary General Friedrich Curtius will “immediately follow” Keller, Stephan Osnabrügge will no longer be treasurer in the Bundestag, which was brought forward to January from autumn 2022, and Koch will no longer be 1st Vice President Amateure to run for office. “DFB is setting the course for realignment,” the association headlined the statement.

On closer inspection, however, it turns out relatively quickly that the supposed new beginning is more of a sham. Because in the last paragraph it is announced that, according to the statutes, in the eight months until the new election, the same chef and Peters will take over as 1st Vice President of the Professionals as interim presidents with equal rights and will therefore also look for the new DFB President.

This means that the two professional officials at the head of the hopelessly divided federation, who have been sitting there for the longest (since 2007) alongside DFL managing director Christian Seifert, and who, not without reason, are consistently labeled as “pulling the cord” in all the media, remain at the top of the hopelessly divided association.

Through skillful tactics and pacts, both have developed such a position of power over the years that they are almost inviolable in their areas – and have to serve as a striking enemy image on the respective opposing side. Koch has been President of the Bavarian Football Association for 17 years, the largest DFB regional association by far with 1.6 million members, and President of the South German Regional Association for ten years.

Koch speaks for almost half of all DFB members, which justified the rise to the most powerful amateur representative in the DFB and was crowned last month with the election to the UEFA Executive Committee. The 62-year-old has a lot to lose, which is why he has recently tried again and again to get the amateur representatives behind him – with the narrative that the DFL wants to take control of the DFB, at least over the financially most important areas of the national team and the DFB Cup.

The same applies to Peters’ role in the DFL: Although this has not officially been found at a club job, in fact everyone in such a position has had strong support from one of the 36 first and second division clubs so far. Presumably for this reason Peters wanted to run for the new Schalke supervisory board, but his application was rejected.

Koch, on the other hand, has announced his departure as 1st Vice President in January, but apparently wants to stay on the DFB Presidium because of the UEFA job. Apparently he is planning to swap roles with his deputy in the South German Association, Ronny Zimmermann. The man from Baden would then move up from his current position as “normal” DFB Vice President to 1st Vice President Amateurs – and thereby make room for Koch.

DFB and DFL: Peter Peters kept moving up

Nonetheless, no one is currently pushing themselves because everyone knows, at least after the fall of Kellers, that as a DFB President you are at least jeopardizing quality of life, reputation and nerves. If not more, as the prosecutor’s ongoing investigation suggests. Therefore, all candidate castings are currently pure speculation.

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, for example, as a former national team captain and experienced board member with a brilliant international network, would be a perfect choice, especially since he will be leaving FC Bayern at the end of the year. But Rummenigge has so far categorically ruled out such an activity. Which is even more true for other well-deserved old international such as Matthias Sammer or Rudi Völler.

Philipp Lahm also knows that at the moment, as DFB President, he can win little, but can lose a lot, and will continue to focus on his job as organizer of the 2024 European Championships. External candidates from politics such as Wolfgang Bosbach, on the other hand, sound less than convincing – and it is also doubtful whether the growing call for a woman at the top will actually be heard. Especially since in Heike Ulrich it is very likely that a woman will officiate as General Secretary for the first time.

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