Criticism of German soccer chief Grindel growing louder

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BERLIN (AP) German football federation president Reinhard Grindel is under increasing pressure over allegations he hasn’t been open about outside earnings and over general discontent with his leadership.

Grindel, who has been in charge of the DFB since April 2016 after his predecessor Wolfgang Niersbach stepped down amid claims of corruption, conspicuously avoided the red carpet at the opening of the German football museum in Dortmund on Monday.

Grindel was accused by German weekly magazine Der Spiegel last week of failing to declare additional income of 78,000 euros ($87,000) for being chairman of the DFB’s subsidiary media management company in 2016 and 2017 – on top of his regular salary as DFB president.

The DFB issued a statement to reject the accusations, saying Grindel took on the position with its subsidiary company only after he became president, and so was not obliged to declare the earnings at the time.

But criticism of Grindel is growing louder.

“When you’re in such a position and such things come to light, you should at last have arguments to put them aside as soon as possible,” former West Germany midfielder Lothar Matthaeus said. “The DFB has been on shaky ground before.”

Niersbach stepped down in November 2015 amid allegations that Germany’s bid to win the World Cup in 2006 was helped by bribery. Niersbach’s predecessor, Theo Zwanziger, stepped down in 2012.

Former Germany captain Philipp Lahm, who retired after winning the World Cup in 2014, is being groomed as a possible replacement for Grindel.

Grindel was already under fire for his clumsy attempts to engage with fans while increasing the commercial appeal of German soccer. Monday night games, late kickoff times, and a ban on pyrotechnics have all proved unpopular with fans, who frequently display banners at games criticizing the DFB.

Grindel was embarrassed in 2017 when a scheme to allow China’s under-20 team to play against fourth-tier sides was abandoned due to protests from supporters displaying Tibetan flags.

Andreas Rettig, managing director of second division side St. Pauli, said at the opening of the new football museum that Grindel would not get a place in the its hall of fame.

“The DFB’s appearance has long been in need of improvement,” Rettig said.

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