European Club Association (ECA) chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has joined the growing chorus demanding change in the way football is run, and called upon clubs to revolt against FIFA corruption.
Rummenigge, who stops just short of calling for a breakaway organisation, pulls no punches with his candid assessment of FIFA, and its president, Sepp Blatter.
“Sepp Blatter is saying [that he’s cleaning up shop] but the fact that no one believes him tells you everything you need to know,” the German said. “I’m not optimistic because they believe the system is working perfectly as it is. It’s a money machine, World Cup after World Cup, and, for them, that’s more important than serious and clean governance.
“It is a nice game but is decided by people who are corrupt. I am not ready to accept the system as it is and I am not alone. I don’t accept any longer that we [should be] guided by people who are not serious and clean. Now is the moment to intervene, because knowing something is wrong is an obligation to change.”
All fair points and ones you’d have expected UEFA chief, Michel Platini, to have been making for the past four years, were it not for the fact that he has set his sights on running the organisation one day.
Rummenigge is also unhappy that the governing bodies expect clubs to release players for international friendlies and tournaments without recompense.
“Each club lost at least €10 million (at the 2010 World Cup) but we accepted it as a favour to the players, and now we find those dates have been given for international friendlies,” he said.
“When I won the European Championship [with West Germany in 1980], there were eight teams in the finals. That figure will treble by 2016. The clubs pay the players but are not part of the decision-making process. We are not treated respectfully.”
But this overlooks the fact that during that time, the number of countries taking part in the European Championships has risen from 31 to 53. Also, perhaps more pertinently, fewer finalists can only mean one thing: more qualifiers.
On the move
Sergio Aguero’s move to Manchester City looks like it’s nearing completion. The Argentinian striker’s club Atletico Madrid have acknowledged that a deal is imminent, although they are unhappy with the way the player has conducted himself.
“It does look like this long-running issue will be resolved in the coming hours. It is at an end,” said Atletico coach Gregorio Manzano. “I had hoped that he could have chosen a better, more professional way to leave and shown more love to the club.”
As is customary these days, when a professional footballers has something to say, Aguero confirmed his arrival in England via Twitter: “Just arrived in Manchester to tie up the details of the signing for City. Everything is going well. I’ll tell you more in a little while.”
Fortunately, when he arrives, his compatriot, new team mate, and well-known Mancophile, Carlos Tevez, will be able to take him under his wing and show him the delights the city has to offer.
Goal of the day
Rangers’ Champion League campaign is in danger of being over before it has really begun. The Scottish champions were defeated 1-0 at home to Swedish outfit, Malmo, in last night’s third qualifying round, first leg, courtesy of this cracking strike by Daniel Larsson.
The Argentina Football Association (AFA) is set to embark upon a radical shake-up of the league’s structure. In a move that is in no way connected to River Plate’s relegation from the top flight, oh no, absolutely no way at all, the AFA has propsed that the top two divisions merge to form a league of 38 clubs.
The new competition will see the teams split into two zones of 19, with the top five teams in each zone advancing to the Championship Stage, to determine the league winners, while the other 28 will play to avoid relegation. And if you think that sound unwieldy, imagine the size of the league if one of the bigger clubs does suffer the ignominy of relegation.
Staying in Argentina, Alejandro Sabella is tipped to become the country’s new national team coach. The former Estudiantes coach was due to take charge of UAE champions Al Jazira, but their team manager, Ayed Mabkhout, has admitted that Sabella looks to have backed out of the agreement.
“Sabella hasn’t informed the club of the decision and we were expecting him to arrive yesterday because our pre-season training starts today,” he said.
Sabella was part of a trickle (Jack Warner would doubtless call it a ‘Tsunami’) of Argentinian players who arrived to play in England in 1978. Along, with Osvaldo Ardilles and Ricardo Villa who joined Tottenham and Alberto Tarantini who moved to Birmingham, Sabella was signed by Sheffield United, after the Yorkshire club had failed in an audacious attempt to sign a young Diego Maradona.
Here’s a great piece from the time, which gives you an idea of the impact Sabella made on his arrival in Sheffield.
Levante’s pre-season tour of Holland came to an abrupt end last night, when their game against NAC Breda was abandoned following a punch-up between both sets of players.
Referee Maarten Ketting signalled the end of the match after the dismissal of the visitor’s Valdo prompted a mass brawl and led to an attempt by a supporter to assault a Levante player.
Here’s a fan’s-eye view of the brawl.
While a Dutch news item catches the flare-up from the other side of the pitch.
Clearly still giddy after Uruguay’s Copa America triumph, and obviously unaware of Saturday’s 3-0 defeat to Hull City at the weekend, Liverpool striker, Luis Suarez, has been playing up his side’s chances of winning the Premier League.
“When you play for a club like Liverpool, one of the biggest clubs in England, you’ve always got to have the aspiration of winning the title. You’ve got to believe with the quality we’ve got at this club that this can be a realistic possibility,” he is quoted as saying in the Liverpool Echo.
For the record, Liverpool have conceded nine goals in their three pre-season matches so far.
Javier Faus, the man in charge of Barcelona’s economic strategy, has issued a warning about the club’s long-term financial viability.
The bare figures are quite revealing, and illustrate the level of expenditure embarked upon by the European champions to attain their current lofty status. The club lost €43.5 million last year, a not unreasonable amount for an organisation the size of Barcelona, but somewhat troubling given that they are unquestionably the most successful club in the world at the moment.
The devil, as always is in the detail, and this is where it gets interesting.
The Barcelona first-team squad received €47m in bonus payments for winning the Champions League and La Liga (€27m and €20m respectively). Reaching the European final earned the club an estimated €62m in total revenue, yet when the estimated €39m invested in the team is taken into account the €23m profit suddenly becomes a €4m loss when bonuses are subtracted.
In effect, they lost money winning the Champions League. And if that’s the case, what hope if there for any club not bankrolled by Arab sheiks or Russian oligarchs?
Juventus president Andrea Agnelli has mde a frank assessment of the current state of Italian football, admitting that the country has fallen behind its European rivals in recent years.
Agnelli is convinced that the root of Serie’s A problems lies in the poor state of stadiums throughout the country. Although, the role played by Calciopoli and in particular that of Juventus, can’t have helped Italy’s reputation overseas. But, no mention of that by Agnelli.
“To be candid about Serie A, we are certainly not where we want to be today. It certainly has to do with the facilities,” he told the New York Times. “All the stadiums are obsolete. We have a lot of violence, we still have police around the stadium, so it is not very friendly.”
After a miserable summer plagued by the spectre of match-fixing, finally some good news for Turkish football fans. Their Under-19 side beat the all-conquering Spanish side 3-0 in last night’s group games.
While one wouldn’t want to cast aspersions about the Spanish performance, especially in the current climate, it has to be said that had Turkey conceded any of these goals, a match-mixing enquiry would already be under way.
There are some real shockers, as you can see here:
Despite the result, Spain top the group and reach the semi-finals whiled Turkey return home.