Rum­menigge won’t seek re-elec­tion

New Straits Times - - Sport -

GENEVA: For­mer West Ger­many for­ward Karl-Heinz Rum­menigge will not run for re-elec­tion as head of the Euro­pean Club As­so­ci­a­tion (ECA), he an­nounced on Thurs­day.

Rum­menigge, who is also chief ex­ec­u­tive of Ger­man cham­pi­ons Bay­ern Mu­nich, has been head of the ECA since it was founded in 2008, hav­ing been re-elected three times.

Rum­menigge said his eight years in charge had been in­tense and suc­cess­ful, but crit­ics say changes dur­ing that time have favoured big clubs over the rest. Those changes have also made foot­ball more pre­dictable, they say, with the same teams reach­ing the de­ci­sive stages of the Cham­pi­ons League ev­ery year.

“I have al­ways be­lieved this of­fice should only be held for a lim­ited amount of time,” Rum­menigge said in an ECA state­ment. “My with­drawal from of­fice ex­presses my sin­cer­ity con­cern­ing this is­sue.”

Un­der Rum­menigge’s lead­er­ship, the ECA last year ne­go­ti­ated fun­da­men­tal changes to the Cham­pi­ons League with Euro­pean soc­cer body UEFA, which gave more places to teams from the big­gest Euro­pean leagues.

Two years ago, the ECA ne­go­ti­ated with Fifa a three­fold in­crease in the amount of money paid to clubs who re­lease play­ers for the World Cup. Un­der the agree­ment, the rul­ing body will hand out US$209 mil­lion (RM900 mil­lion) in both 2018 and 2022, com­pared with US$70 mil­lion in 2014.

More re­cently, the ECA has crit­i­cised Fifa’s de­ci­sion to in­crease the size of the World Cup to 48 teams from 32, start­ing in 2026.

Rum­menigge has de­nied that ECA poli­cies have been detri­men­tal to the smaller clubs. He blames any com­pet­i­tive im­bal­ance on the 1995 Bos­man rul­ing, in which the Euro­pean Court of Jus­tice barred trans­fer fees for play­ers out of con­tract.

“The Euro­pean top clubs feel great sol­i­dar­ity with the medi­um­sized and smaller clubs, while these smaller clubs have an un­der­stand­ing for the needs of the big clubs,” Rum­menigge said. “I am par­tic­u­larly proud of this fact.”

Fifa pres­i­dent Gianni In­fantino said he re­gret­ted Rum­menigge’s de­ci­sion.

Rum­menigge’s re­place­ment will be elected in Geneva on Sept 5. Reuters

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