The president of Germany’s Football Association, the DFB, has apologised publicly for making a Nazi reference when talking to his vice-president in a meeting last week, saying it had been a “grave mistake”.
Fritz Keller referred to Rainer Koch, a civil judge, as “Freisler”, a reference to the prominent Nazi judge Roland Freisler, a participant at the 1942 Wannsee Conference where the Nazis laid out their “final solution” plan to exterminate the Jews.
Keller has had strained relations with several other senior DFB members, including Koch. “With my remark during the board meeting last Friday towards my first vice-president Rainer Koch I committed a grave mistake,” Keller said in a statement. “I assumed that he would accept my apology, which I offered both in writing and by phone. This estimation was wrong.”
Keller has also been locked in a power struggle with the general secretary, Friedrich Curtius, essentially since the start of his presidency in 2019.
“At times of social rifts we should as footballers, after my foul, offer to shake hands and together provide a sign of reconciliation,” Keller said. “I am happy that Rainer Koch is ready for joint discussions.”