In a statement released by the German football association (DFB) on Thursday, Reinhard Grindel said that he had been “hurt” by the personal attacks on him, which came in response to the controversy that followed former national team player Mesut Özil having his photo taken with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
He also said that he “vehemently rejected” the accusations of racism against both him personally and the DFB as a whole.
“The values of the DFB are also my values. Diversity, solidarity, anti-discrimination and integration are all values and convictions that are very close to my heart,” he said.
At the same time, he said that he regretted the fact that the photos that Özil and Germany teammate Ilkay Gündogan had taken with the Turkish president had been used to fuel racist attacks on the two players of Turkish heritage and that both he and the DFB could have handled the resulting controversy better.
“In hindsight, I, as president, should have unequivocally said what for me and the association is obvious: Any form of racial hostility is intolerable,” he said.
In his three-part statement announcing that he was resigning from international football, Özil had accused the DFB president of not backing him in the wake of a wave of public criticism due to his heritage.
“In the eyes of Grindel and his supporters, I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose. This is because despite paying taxes in Germany, donating facilities to German schools and winning the World Cup with Germany in 2014, I am still not accepted into society. I am treated as being ‘different,'” read Özil’s statement.