Commentary

The hypocrisy of Karl-Heinz Rummenigge

To the surprise of no one, European clubs oppose FIFA president Gianni Infantino's plan to expand the World Cup to 48 teams in 2026.

FIFA looks at a tournament expanded from 32 to 48 teams as that many more games for which it can sell tickets to fans and sell rights to television networks and corporate sponsors

European clubs (which employed 76 percent of the players in the 2014 World Cup) look at all those extra teams as that many more players who'll be away for a month or two.

That means more chances of their players getting hurt and more vacation time they'll need to give out on the back end -- when preseason camp has already begun. All fair points.

FIFA has already caved in to European clubs on scheduling before, eliminating international fixture dates in February and August and a third date in June. (To accommodate a switch to a November-December World Cup in 2022 in Qatar, FIFA agreed to shorten the tournament from 32 to 28 days.)

FIFA has also sweetened the pot on compensating clubs for borrowing them for the World Cup, from $40 million in 2010 to $70 million in 2014 and up to $209 million in 2022 (another concession for the inconvenience of a World Cup being played in the middle of a European season).

The European Club Association, which represents 220 European clubs, opposes the World Cup expansion on the grounds that the number of games played "has already reached an unacceptable level."

"In the interest of the fans and the players," Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Bayern Munich's chairman and the ECA chairman, said, "we urge FIFA not to increase the number of World Cup participants."

Rummenigge is also the deputy chairman of FIFA's football stakeholders committee that theoretically should be looking after the interests in the sport.

"Politics and commerce should not be the exclusive priority in football," he added.

That's all fine and good, but Rummenigge is hardly the right person to criticize the role politics and business play in soccer, given the ECA's push for a European super league that will benefit the elite of European club soccer.

It's also one thing to bemoan more time players spend with their national teams in the offseason at the expense of vacation. But it's another to then fly them all over the world for summer exhibition tours that serve only one purpose for these clubs: fill the coffers with money.
5 comments about "The hypocrisy of Karl-Heinz Rummenigge".
  1. Quarterback TD, December 15, 2016 at 11:46 p.m.

    I guess someone like Karl cannot give his opinion without being treated like a criminal so I will give mine. Me personally don't give a darn if it 32, 42 or 52 teams however Europe better realize that they need to change their stinking attitude towards the World Cup because without it no one would be interested in none of those protectionism teams like Barcelona, Manchester and Real Madrid you promote. World Cup is once every 4 year where people feel pride from a patriotic perspective so do us a favor Europe and relax and stop acting like European Soccer is the only soccer that matters.

  2. frank schoon replied, December 16, 2016 at 12:16 p.m.

    The more teams does not make a world cup better..it is all about QUALITY for if the WC'14 was probably one of the worse ,quality wise , in history. I much prefer to the top 16 best countries play rather than "come one ,come all" where upon the quality of the game will suffer....

  3. Gus Keri, December 16, 2016 at 11:12 a.m.

    Relax, guys. This is only a maneuver by Rummenigge to help clubs get more money from FIFA.

  4. charles davenport, December 16, 2016 at 7:26 p.m.

    The field should absolutely not be expanded to 48. Ridiculous. but 2018 will be the last world cup I will watch. Russia is bad enough, but I will not watch a game played in a stadium built by slave labor in Qatar.

  5. Kent James, December 19, 2016 at 3:12 p.m.

    The WC should absolutely not be expanded. Instead, there should be a "small soccer nations World Cup", with the smallest half of the soccer playing nations eligible to play (you know, the Faroe Islands, Burkina-Faso, etc.). The nations in this WC would have a different qualifications route (so you would no longer have those 7-0 qualifier wins), and they would end in a smaller WC (maybe 16 teams?) prior to the regular WC (sometime during the year prior). The 2 teams that make it to the finals would earn a birth in the regular WC finals (giving the opportunity for a Cinderella team to win).

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