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Martin Volkmar: Platini and the domino effect

The candidacy of Michel Platini for FIFA president could have far-reaching consequences – especially for German football.

If the reports of support from four of the six continental federations are correct, Platini’s election as Blatter’s successor looks like a foregone conclusion.

This in turn would start a large game of musical chairs. First, a new UEFA president would have to be found. Favorite: Wolfgang Niersbach.

On the one hand he is internationally well connected through his many years of working as a journalist, DFB media boss and World Cup organiser, and being a personal friend of Platini. On the other hand, because of his short membership in the management levels of UEFA and FIFA he is not a part of the ancien regime.

If he was enthroned at the top of the European governing body in the summer of next year Niersbach would then have to resign as DFB president. Bayern chairman Karl Heinz Rummenigge has already mooted Reinhard Rauball as the top candidate to replace him. The President of Borussia Dortmund is “unquestionably an extremely able man,” praised Rummenigge.

The job would be right for 68-year Rauball fit, who is DFL President and first DFB vice-president. In professional football, which provides almost a third of the electorate in the DFB Bundestag, the sports lawyer is untouchable, but he also has a good reputation with the amateurs and the best contacts in politics, business and media.

By contrast, the other first Vice-President Dr. Rainer Koch, also a lawyer like Rauball, represents the amateurs in the DFB which would theoretically put the majority of delegates behind him. But the 56-year-olds lack the support of the Bundesliga, which is why he is unlikely to stand as a candidate. Ultimately, if Rauball will take the job as DFB boss, it’s his.

The question then is of who would succeed Rauballs at the forefront of the professional leagues. It is quite possible that here we would see the further rise of DFL CEO Christian Seifert to becoming the sole boss, comparable to a Comissioner in US Sports.

Alternatively, a former Bundesliga-leading member could be pulled out of retirement for the volunteer post. For instance Wolfgang Holzhäuser, who until 2013 was on the board of Bayer Leverkusen and before that was 23 years at the DFB. The 65-year-old was also for many years in leading positions at the DFB and the DFL and in 2007, before Rauballs took office, was even provisionally the league president.

However, Rummenigge also has a possible successor in mind from his own club as reward for pushing Rauball for the DFB-top. Uli Hoeness, who wanted to run for the DFL post in 2010 and then withdrew against incumbent Rauball, probably can no longer be considered because of his current prison sentence for tax evasion.

But a suitable candidate would be Bayern president and chairman of the board Karl Hopfner, who has sat for some years on the DFL Board. Or maybe even Rummenigge himself as his contract as full-time Bayern CEO expires at the end of 2016.

There are a lot of mind games at the moment but they will quickly become a reality if Platini’s FIFA candidacy is successful.

Martin Volkmar is a member of the Editorial Board of leading German sports channel SPORT1 and Head of the Online Desk (www.sport1.de). He has covered, among others, two World cups, two European Championships and four Champions League finals.