Top clubs threaten to break away from Fifa and Uefa
ECA threatens to set up its own league, but is all this hot air just a calculated move for more power?
Is world football on the brink of its biggest change for 80 years? Yes, according to the Guardian, which reports that Europe's top clubs are threatening to break away from Fifa and Uefa to create their own super league.
Earlier this week European Club Association chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge issued a call to arms, talking of a "revolution" in football governance and declaring "now is the moment to intervene". Today the full reality of what that change could be is apparent.
A signed memorandum between Europeans clubs and Uefa - legally binding teams to play in the Champion's League and release players for international friendlies or tournaments - is due to run out in 2014. And according to an unnamed ECA board member, there is no guarantee that the deal will be renewed.
"We're very close to breaking point," the source told the paper. After 2014 "we can no longer be forced to respect Fifa statutes or Uefa regulations. And we won't be obliged to compete in their competitions."
Although the Champions League is a huge cash cow for Europe's biggest clubs the ECA is confident that it could set up a rival. "Don't be naive. Don't think there would be no alternative competition," said the source.
The Guardian is under no doubt of the threat's significance. A break away "would be the most radical development in the history of football since the first World Cup in 1930," it wrote, "ripping up the established world order of the game and seizing power from Sepp Blatter, Fifa's president."
But it is unclear whether the grandstanding from the ECA signals a genuine attempt to cut ties with world's top governing bodies. More likely, perhaps, the brash statements are an attempt to establish a stronger position from which to force Fifa to make the change they appear to really want: more involvement in decision making.
The 197 clubs that the ECA represents have grown increasingly frustrated by the release of players for international duties without any payback. With the international calendar growing and a commitment from Uefa over insurance said to have been delayed, it would seem the ECA has jumped at the chance to play hardball at a time when world football's governing body is mired in corruption allegations.
Rummenigge addressed this lack of power in his comments this week. "Clubs are the root of all football," he said, "but no club is involved in the decision-making process at Fifa and Uefa." Pointing out that 75 per cent of players at the World Cup came from European teams, he said: "The clubs pay the players but are not part of the decision-making process. We are not treated respectfully."
Is this talk of 'revolution' simply a way of forcing Fifa's hand? If so, the ECA are unlikely to be pleased by Sepp Blatter's response. He shrugged off Rummenigge's comments at a press conference in Brazil yesterday and declared that reforming Fifa will take at least nine months – considerably longer than hoped. ·
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