Less than six months ago, Karl Heinz Rummenigge had shot from the lip seeking a revolution at Fifa, football's world body. It was summer then. Temperatures in Munich may be hovering near zero and below now but Rummenigge, head of the Bayern Munich board and president of the European Club Association (ECA), showed he is still simmering.
“The image of Fifa is a disaster. It can't get any worse. If (Fifa president) Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini (head of the Uefa, Europe's apex football body) are to convince the world they are changing, they must show it. Very often, I have the impression that Uefa and Fifa just support national federations. I understand that because of their elections but it’s time you convinced all the stakeholders about your intentions,” said Rummenigge, speaking at Bayern Munich’s offices in Munich.
And that wasn't all. “Corruption rumours persist. We need to re-start Fifa or whatever. Fifa must recognise that without clubs nothing would run. We need quick answers from Platini and Blatter to show that they are serious about transparency, democracy and governance involving all of football's stakeholders,” said Rummenigge, Platini's peer as a player and a former West Germany captain.
The memorandum of understanding between European clubs, who according to Rummenigge last year gave the World Cup 75% of its players, and Fifa runs till 2014. This means, among other things, the clubs follow Fifa statutes and agree to release players for national teams. No one's talking breaking away yet but should that happen, it would imperceptibly alter the way the world looks at football. Especially as Rummenigge pointed out, Europe is the engine that runs the world sport.
“We are ready to renew if transparency, democracy and governance are satisfactory,” said the head of the ECA an organisation that is 200-club strong.
Fixture congestion due to an greater number of dates made available for international friendlies is one of ECA's grouses as are allegations of vote-buying that have hit Fifa since Mohamed bin Hammam decided to contest for the president's post and continue even after he was made persona non grata.
Cricket’s been there though done what it's not quite clear. Football's fabric too has been torn by match-fixing charges in the South Korean league, Turkish club Fenerbahce being banned from the Champions League and former Italy player Giuseppe Signori being charged with trying to influence results. Moreover, players have struck work in Italy and Spain before the season started.
Asked if football was losing its soul, Rummenigge said: “There has to be a common understanding to fight this. Six weeks ago, representatives of Uefa, the leagues and FIFPro (the world players’ body) met to discus this. The fan must be able to trust football.”
He accepted that it is impossible to weed match-fixing out completely “especially from the fourth and fifth division leagues” but said the football family is united in combating the scourge. On this at least, he, Blatter and Platini are on the same page.