The president of Germany’s Football Association (DFB) Fritz Keller 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.”
Keller referred to vice president Rainer Koch, a civil judge, as “Freisler,” a reference to 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.
“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 on Tuesday.
“I assumed that he would accept my apology, which I offered both in writing and by phone. This estimation was wrong,” Keller said, who took over the DFB in 2019.
“At times of social rifts we should as footballers, after my foul, offer our hands and together provide a sign of reconciliation. I am happy that Rainer Koch is ready for joint discussions.”
Koch also sits on the UEFA executive committee.
Keller is reportedly locked in a power struggle with other senior board members, with the DFB having been rocked by a series of scandals in recent years that forced Keller’s predecessors Reinhard Grindel and Wolfgang Niersbach to resign.
The DFB is the world’s largest federation with more than seven million registered members. Germany is set to host the Euro 2024 championships.