Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has pushed German football a further step towards an accommodation for a winter World Cup in Qatar in 2022. The chief executive of European and German champions Bayern Munich is even open to the possibility of German football turning its season around permanently.
In an interview with the German magazine Kicker, Rummenigge spoke in favour of a move which would push the Bundesliga further from the resistant stance taken by England’s Premier League which is totally opposed to even a single-season adjustment.
Two years ago reports surfaced in Germany that UEFA’s French president Michel Platini had pondered whether European football should fall into line with most of the rest of the world and moved to a calendar-year schedule.
Hence leagues would start in February and end in November with a summer break of around four or six weeks. Platini has denied that he had would ever come forward with a firm proposal.
However Rummenigge is on that wavelength which is intriguing since he is charmain of the European Club Association which purports to represent the will of Europe’s 100-plus top clubs. Some, particularly in England, may even question his position.
German football, like most of central and Eastern Europe, has always incorporated a winter break in its league season for climatic reasons.
Hence turning the season around would not come as a such a revolutionary step as it would for England and, to a lesser extent, for Spain and Italy.
Talking around the issue, Rummenigge said: “I think it’s quite attractive, especially for us in Germany. I like to call it a kind of Lego system.”
Rummenigge sees a new, Gregorian Calendar schedule as being formed by a number of adjustable ‘building blocks’ to allow for qualifying matches and finals in competitions such as the World Cup and European Championship.
This would help clubs, said Rummenigge, because they would have significant stretches of a season “reserved exclusively for club football because there would also be a month where only national team football was played – all qualifying matches and friendlies.”
Rummenigge added: “This means that you could play a World Cup in January and February – say, for example, in Qatar – and when maybe the 2026 World Cup comes back to Europe, you could play it back in the summer.”
Support from such a significant source will delight not only Platini but also FIFA president Sepp Blatter who has finally come around to worrying about a World Cup in searing summer temperatures in the Gulf in 2022.
Blatter is placing the issue before the FIFA executive committee at its next meeting in October. The likeliest outcome is that the exco will set up a task force to examine all the pros and cons of a calendar switch.
Qatar was awarded the World Cup in December 2010 in the scandal-enshrouded ballot which incorporated the designation of Russia as host nation for the 2018 finals.