Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, newly re-elected chairman of the European Club Association spoke for not only his own organisation but several members of the world authority’s own executive committee, when he questioned the need for a sudden rush to judgment.
Earlier this summer FIFA president Sepp Blatter responded to a campaign led by UEFA’s Michel Platini to throw his weight behind a switch to a winter hosting because of the searing summer temperatures in the Gulf.
This has surprised and concerned western European leagues whose traditional season schedules would be ripped in half with an unknown effect on television and sponsor deals and even players’ contracts.
Rummenigge issued a polite but firm request for a cross-party debate after a two-day general assembly of the ECA which represents 214 elite clubs from across Europe.
He said: “We would like to be involved in the decision-making process on a serious and high level because this is something which will impact on our business so we want a guarantee of involvement.
“I believe there is no hurry and I don’t understand why FIFA would like an early decision at the next executive committee meeting in October because the 2022 World Cup is nine years away.
“That is more than enough to take a very sensible and prudent [decision] in the best interests of football so all stakeholders in the football family can be happy with a possible change in the season for Qatar.”
Rummenigge, who is also CEO of European and German champions Bayern Munich, said he understood that other leagues from around the world also had a right of involvement in a “sensible” process “which all stakeholders in the football family can accept because it is affecting our business.”
He acknowledged that the controversial FIFA exco vote, in December 2010, had been “a surprise.” However he did not believe FIFA had been mistaken because the world governing body had always wanted to take the World Cup to as many different regions and countries as possible.
Rummenigge added: “It was a political decision in favour of Qatar to bring the World Cup to the Arab countries and that is it.”
He had full confidence in Qatar’s ability to organise the World Cup and recalled that, in his playing days, he had been expected to play in the finals in extremes of heat, humidity and altitude in Mexico in 1986. It had also been “35 or 40 degress and very humid” when Brazil played Italy in the 1994 final in Pasadena.
“So,” Rummenigge added, “we had that sometimes in the past but it was always accepted and respected. Now maybe times are different but what I am missing is respect for the decision made by FIFA and respect for the organising committee in Qatar.”