2014 will be a big year for most of us who exist on planet football, with the World Cup travelling to the iconic football nation of Brazil it is something every football fan is looking forward to, especially in the wake of the qualifying groups being drawn. But 2014 is significant for another reason; it could be a year of revolution for European football.
In 2014 a memorandum of understanding between European clubs and UEFA will expire meaning the top European clubs will no longer be legally bound to play in the UEFA Champions League or release their players for international friendlies or tournaments, which crucially includes the World Cup. Recently this has been brought to light by Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, head of the European Club Association (ECA), which represents the most powerful clubs from all over Europe; a threat of revolution is afoot.To get you up to speed the ECA is an association that replaced the G14 Group and the European Club Forum. G14 was said to be elitist and drew strong opposition from many quarters, none more so than FIFA and UEFA. In 2008 G14 disbanded after coming to an agreement with FIFA and UEFA over compensation for injured players. As a more all-encompassing group the ECA was formed; in short a bigger version of G14 who have become ‘the authoritative, independent voice of European club football, the lifeblood of the European game.’ We can all remember ongoing rumours of the G14 clubs forming a break-away league and going it alone and Rummenigge has bought the debate to life again.
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is disgruntled with FIFA and commented “I’m ready for a revolution if that’s the only way to come to a solution,”. This comment was hot on the heels of Blatter’s statement regarding the cleanup of FIFA where he stated “There is a lot of work that is already on the table, we have had contact with organisations working in transparency, personalities who work on anti‑corruption systems, we are talking to the United Nations, who have this sort of committee.”
But everyone, including us fans, seem to have had enough of FIFA and something has to change. With Blatter in charge for another 4 years how true is the above statement likely to be? For me he is just saying the right things but in my opinion very little will actually change and this is also the thoughts of Rummernigge. Would revolution be such a bad thing?
Here in England we are not opposed to revolution…remember when our clubs left The Football League to form a new football power; the Premier League? That was nearly 20 years ago now and the Premier League has gone from strength to strength and is considered by most to be the best and most exciting league in the world.
Let’s get this right though, what Rummenigge is hinting at is a much bigger proposition than re-branding and reforming the top division of one league. This wouldn’t just affect things at club level, but international level also. Technically, domestic football in most countries could continue to exist as normal being governed by domestic football associations and leagues. But internationally and in European club competition the change would be more drastic.
The Champions League as we know it would be reborn under a new guise and all clubs would have to want to be involved for this to work. Internationally, the European Championships and World Cup would also become extinct if the major powers were to leave and new competitions would form in their places.
A lot of club managers, probably 90%+, are opposed to their players having to go and play ‘pointless’ friendlies at stupid times of the season and there is no doubt in my mind that the abolishment of certain friendlies would be more than welcomed by most managers. In regards to the rest of the format of Champions League, European Championships and World Cup, they all seem to run pretty well and need tweaking rather than complete change.
So we have got to a point where we are all sick of Blatter and FIFA, amongst this entire debacle, UEFA have been amazingly quiet. Politics has come in to play with Platini not wanting to damage relations with FIFA in a situation where he could have stood up and been counted, gaining public support in his quest to be the next FIFA president. For me this silence makes UEFA as accountable as FIFA.
But what is going on at FIFA, no one can say they believe FIFA are going to well and truly clean up their act and if this is the case, they have to go. Maybe a breakaway from FIFA and UEFA could be what is needed, football usually cleanses itself every 25 years and it could be time. Over the coming week I will be investigating how this could work in practice and also if there is any chance of success with everything else going on in the football world, whatever the outcome it should be an interesting one.