By Tony Attwood
There is very little that the football associations of various countries can do about Fifa since they have been playing the Fifa game for years. Indeed all the English FA have done is made themselves look stupid. They kow-tow to the Fifa organisation, will not have a word said against it, sign documents that would allow Fifa to operate tax free within the UK (and have their own car lanes), and clearly state that they expect to win the world cup rights, and then (when they don’t) they say, oh Fifa are nasty corrupt cheats.
So the thought has been for some time that if some sort of change might happen in football it has to come with the big clubs.
But that thought has been somewhere out of the rear view mirror since the G14 was broken up.
I had personally had great hopes for the G14 as a reforming body, and my feeling in their favour increased in May 2007, when Platini called on the group to disband, on the grounds that the clubs should be talking through the Professional Football Strategy Council.
Since the PFSC was in fact a Uefa body, and since (to me even if no one else) Uefa being part of Fifa was part of the problem, that seemed a bad move. But, as is the way of the world, no one asked me, and in January 2008 the G14 and Uefa agreed that Fifa and Uefa would pay compensation for international injuries and selection after a World Cup or European Championship. In return, the G14 agreed to disband.
At their first meeting, the ECA rejected FIFA’s 6+5 rule – but it is noticeable that Fifa is continuing to push the 6+5 rule.
This rule says that at the start of each match, each club must field at least six players eligible to play for the national team of the country of the club. There is no restriction, however, on the number of non-eligible players under contract with the club, nor on substitutes.
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Despite the ECA objection the Fifa Congress in 2008 decided to fully support the objectives of “6+5” and request the presidents of and Uefa to explore the means to implement the rule incrementally, starting in 2010–11 with an extra number of home players introduced each year until 6+5 was reached in 2012-13.
The 6+5 rule was declared illegal by the European Union and rejected by the Parliament in May 2008 as violating Article 48 of the EC Treaty.
The independent Institute for European Affairs (INEA) was then set up by Fifa to investigate the situation, and it declared in February 2009 that the 6+5 rule “can be implemented in line with European Community law.” They chose not to explain exactly how.
And thus it was that the notion of negotiation between Fifa or Eufa and the ECA was born and died at the same died. Negotiation for Fifa always means you pay and we do it our way.
Now Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, the chairman of the ECA, has called for a club-led “revolution” against the corruption that is endemic in the game.
And by and large I’d vote for that.
Mr Rummenigge is the CEO at Bayern Munich and he is quoted as saying that he has watched the “daily corruption process at Fifa” and asked the footballing authorities “to recognise that it’s time for democracy, transparency and the right balance in the football family”.
“I don’t accept any longer that we [should be] guided by people who are not serious and clean,” he said. “Now is the moment to intervene. Because knowing something is wrong is an obligation to change.”
Mr Rummenigge also said there was a groundswell of public support for his stance in the wake of recent scandals, the life-ban for Mohamed bin Hammam and “questions about the Qatari World Cup”. He stated that there was discontent in Germany, Switzerland and England.
Mr Rummenigge was particularly strong in attacking Sepp Blatter, which the FA and its cronies across the world has not been able to do – something that the ECA recognises.
The new plan is revolutionary. “All stakeholders – clubs, associations, players, referees, and women’s football – have a right to be involved in the decision-making process.”
Of course top of the agenda is not 6+5 which the EU believes to be illegal in Europe, no matter what Fifa says, but rather the insane number of international games played each year. The CEO noted that between 1980 and 2016 the number of teams in the European Championship has trebled. And here was his key point:
“The clubs pay the players but are not part of the decision-making process.We are not treated respectfully.”
So what now, since we all know that Fifa and Uefa will never give up any power.
Mr Rummenigge suggested a breakaway movement if the ECA’s position is not addressed. “I will give them a chance but I’m ready for a revolution if that’s the only way to come to a solution,” he said.
And I for one will be there waving the flag.