Germany set to regain FIFA Council seat in European election

NYON: Germany is set to regain a place on FIFA's ruling council in an election forced by corruption allegations linked to the 2006 World Cup.

German soccer federation president Reinhard Grindel is the only contender in an April 5 election to fill a vacant FIFA seat, UEFA said Friday.

Grindel's likely path to a senior FIFA role was confirmed in the same week he criticised FIFA president Gianni Infantino's plan to expand the World Cup to 48 teams at the 2026 tournament. Germany, the World Cup champion, prefers the current 32-team format.

A former federal lawmaker, Grindel must pass a FIFA integrity check to be an official candidate to replace his German federation predecessor, Wolfgang Niersbach.

Niersbach resigned from FIFA last month after losing an appeal against his one-year ban for unethical conduct.

FIFA's ethics committee ruled that Niersbach failed to report possible misconduct linked to 2006 World Cup organisers led by Franz Beckenbauer, who also captained and coached West Germany to World Cup titles.

Beckenbauer and other officials are being investigated by Swiss federal prosecutors, German tax officials and the FIFA ethics committee.

Grindel is not implicated in any allegations about the 2006 tournament, a huge success in Germany which was called the nation's "summer fairytale."

He is poised to join several new European members on FIFA's strategy-setting council after UEFA's April election meeting in Helsinki, Finland.

Four more FIFA seats are being voted on by European soccer federations and, of the five applicants, only Vitaly Mutko, the Russian deputy prime minister and head of the 2018 World Cup organizing committee, is a current member seeking to keep his place.

The new contenders for four-year FIFA mandates through 2021 are: former AC Milan player Dejan Savicevic of Montenegro; Sandor Csanyi, a UEFA executive committee member from Hungary; Geir Thorsteinsson, president of Iceland's soccer federation; and Costakis Koutsokoumnis, the Cyprus federation president.

Mutko must also pass an integrity test while under ethics committee scrutiny over allegations in World Anti-Doping Agency investigations that he helped cover-up doping by players in Russia.