Rummenigge tells FIFA to stop playing politics and focus on football, or the clubs will step in

By Andrew Warshaw

January 31 – The head of the European Club Association, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, is back on the attack over FIFA’s decision to expand the World Cup to 48 teams, describing the move as “nonsense” and warning that the balance of power was shifting back towards his members.

Speaking at a sports business conference in Dusseldorf, Rummenigge said the finals worked perfectly with 32 nations and blasted FIFA – and by association Gianni Infantino – for not consulting the ECA.

Rummenigge, chief executive of Bayern Munich, told his audience: “The increase from 32 to 48 teams is actually nonsense, we had a format which everyone was happy with.”

“The World Cup is a most extraordinary event, it’s the biggest sports event in the world and FIFA must deal with this matter in a more responsible and democratic way.”

Under FIFA rules, countries are obliged to release their players and whilst not wishing to rock that boat, Rummenigge added: “If the big clubs were to refuse to allow their players to take part, that would not be in the interest of the fans.”

“FIFA must get together with the ECA and questions will be asked. FIFA’s motto is ‘we care about fans’. But they need to step away from politics and from finance and pay more attention to football.”

“At the end of the day, there are the top clubs such as Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich, the big Spanish and English clubs, Paris St Germain, Juventus.”

“That is a shift of power that neither UEFA or FIFA can stop and things have changed dramatically in the last few years.”

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