catch­ing up with Karl-Heinz Rum­menigge

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The Euro­pean Club As­so­ci­a­tion chair­man crit­i­cised Fifa yes­ter­day over their de­ci­sion to ex­pand the World Cup fi­nals to 48 teams, and wants less in­ter­na­tional games played.

'Non­sense'

The de­ci­sion-mak­ing process that led Fifa to in­crease the num­ber of teams at the World Cup to 48 start­ing with the tour­na­ment in 2026 is un­ac­cept­able, Rum­menigge, the Euro­pean Club As­so­ci­a­tion chair­man, said yes­ter­day. The or­gan­i­sa­tion, which rep­re­sents 220 foot­ball clubs, op­poses Fifa's de­ci­sion which Rum­menigge, has pre­vi­ously dis­missed as “non­sense”.

Un­happy

The Ger­man, who also serves as Bay­ern Mu­nich’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, said there were also is­sues with trans­parency in that spe­cific Fifa process, with­out elab­o­rat­ing. “I be­lieve it is quite clear Fifa knows we are un­happy that they in­creased the num­ber of par­tic­i­pants by 50 per cent,” he said. “This is a fact. The way of the de­ci­sion-mak­ing and the trans­parency was not ac­cept­able from our point of view.”

Big clubs an­gry

Fifa voted in Jan­uary to in­crease the size of the World Cup from 32 teams to 48 from 2026, but the or­gan­i­sa­tion pledged the fi­nals would not last any longer than at present. How­ever, big clubs in par­tic­u­lar are an­gry at the prospect of los­ing even more play­ers to their na­tional teams.

Seek a so­lu­tion

Clubs have al­ready com­plained about what they say is a crowded cal­en­dar of in­ter­na­tional matches for which they must re­lease their play­ers on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. “They are us­ing our play­ers, our em­ploy­ees in favour of the World Cup,” Rum­menigge said. “We have ev­ery right to find a so­lu­tion.”

Re­duce amount of games

“I would call now es­pe­cially on Fifa and Uefa to re­duce the num­ber of matches. We ar­rived at a point where play­ers have to play too many games,” Rum­menigge said.

Alkis Kon­stan­tini­dis / Reuters

ECA chair­man Karl-Heinz Rum­menigge.

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