Rainer Koch’s long and eventful career as an officer came to a surprising and fitting end on a radiantly beautiful, sunny and warm day in early spring in Bonn am Rhein. As Bernd Neuendorf, the new president of the German Football Association, brought the DFB Bundestag to an almost hasty end, Koch got up from his seat at the edge of the aisle and disappeared through a side exit. After that he was never seen again.
This is definitely not how Rainer Koch, 63, imagined the day would end; the man who had only been in the front line of German football on an interim basis, but who nevertheless had a decisive influence on his destiny for many years; who was considered a gifted strategist and a virtuoso string puller. In the end, however, Rainer Koch himself became a victim of his own tricks.
[Wenn Sie aktuelle Nachrichten aus Berlin, Deutschland und der Welt live auf Ihr Handy haben wollen, empfehlen wir Ihnen unsere App, die Sie hier für Apple- und Android-Geräte herunterladen können.]
Koch failed in an election that was not really destined to fail. All DFB regional associations can nominate a candidate for the position of vice president, who is then elected more or less by acclamation. But Koch had to face his opponent Silke Sinning, 52, in a secret election, because he wanted it that way himself.
Sinning originally belonged to the team of defeated presidential candidate Peter Peters. Had he been elected, she would have run for the position of 1st Vice President. But because Peters was beaten by Bernd Neuendorf, Sinning’s ambitions for a refereeing career were actually dashed. However, at Koch’s initiative, the Bavarian Association had also nominated her as a candidate for the position of simple vice-president and thus as Koch’s counter-candidate, perhaps hoping that the sports scientist would not run at all in in case of doubt
This hope was not altogether unreasonable. Sinning herself admitted after her election that she still had doubts that morning, despite great encouragement from many delegates: “Oh, do you really have the courage to go up there?” She did it. And cooking with it a problem.
Koch behaved like a defiant child
Like a defiant child, he complained in his extremely strange application speech that only he, as the candidate of the South German Association, had the right to be elected. Therefore, he hopes that those who did not want to vote for him “will not participate in the election.” At that time he probably already suspected that he had gambled; that he was so entangled in the ropes that he couldn’t get out.
The DFB Bundestag is traditionally a great unity event. Everything is floating in a sauce of consensus, the points in dispute are usually resolved beforehand in the back room, so that only green voting cards need to be shown in the aisle. Even the applause is quite subdued and rarely enthusiastic. However, when Koch called an election in his own name, there was real outrage on the floor, which is rarely seen in this context. “Rainer didn’t have a happy moment either,” Silke Sinning said.
The respectable success he had hoped for against the mighty string-puller turned into a triumphant success. 163 votes went to Sinnig, only 68 to Koch. After the result was announced, Koch had to walk the entire width of the room to congratulate his opponent. His left hand was still in his pants pocket when he extended his right hand, his eyes did not see Sinning, and then Rainer Koch was already back.
Bernd Neuendorf, the new president, was later asked whether joy or surprise prevailed at the time. It was not “a question of joy or no joy,” he replied. “I take it very seriously.” Nothing better than the outcome of this election could have happened to him. Die Zeit even declared that the Bundestag was the best time for German football since Rio 2014.
“Further new beginnings are not possible,” said BVB boss Watzke
Even before being elected, Neuendorf was accused of saying that his desire for a fresh start in the DFB was nothing more than hot air. Because the fate of the association would continue to be determined by the gray eminence in the background: by Rainer Koch, the virtuoso conductor of the amateur camp.
This scenario was reduced to absurdity in Bonn on Friday. From Koch himself: “Further new beginnings are not possible,” said Hans-Joachim Watzke, managing director of Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund, who represents the DFL as first vice president in the DFB.
Even before his election, Neuendorf signaled upcoming personnel changes to the presidency, which for the first time featured a vice president for equality and diversity in the form of former international Celia Sasic, 33, and Ronny Zimmermann, from 60, who replaced Koch. as first vice president. The message only partially caught on as it appeared that Koch would continue to pull the strings.
After its failure on Friday, the association’s leadership now appears in a completely different light. “If I look at the Presidium, then they are a very good team,” Neuendorf said. “We have become younger, we have become more feminine.” A third of the 15 members are women. “That’s great,” says Silke Sinning. “We can be a little proud of that.”
Rainer Koch is still president of the Bavarian and South German associations. He is also likely to retain his place on UEFA’s executive committee. At least that was what Neuendorf had announced before his election. Koch’s term lasts three more years. So he can’t compete again. If you want to be elected to the UEFA exko, you have to be president or vice-president of a national association.