Monday, November 27, 2006

Bayern Munich ponders leaving "selfish" G-14

Budesliga club Bayern Munich is considering pulling out of the G-14 as it doubts whether the lobbying group of top European clubs is achieving anything for its members or for the game as a whole. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, the Bayern chairman, was sharply critical of the Group, saying clubs from Spain, Italy and England were looking out only for themselves in a sport he said was ruled by "selfishness". Speaking in an interview with Kicker, he also said the growing disparity in income meant German clubs would soon be unable to compete with clubs in richer leagues.

"We will consider whether it makes any sense to stay on in the G-14," Rummenigge said. "We don't feel like paying an annual subscription for just sitting around and talking about things when nothing comes out of it. I doubt whether the G-14 is meaningful any longer. I find that too little is happening. There is no communication with FIFA or UEFA."

Bayern were among the founder members of the G-14, which met for the first time at a Madrid casino in 2000 with a view to promoting the interests of Europe's top clubs, particularly over issues such as TV money from the Champions League and compensation for players injured on international duty. Other notable members of the original 14 were Real Madrid, Barcelona, AC Milan, Inter Milan, Juventus, Manchester United and Liverpool. Four clubs were added in 2002, taking the membership number to 18.

"The clubs in the G-14 only have themselves in mind," Rummenigge said in response to a question about Real Madrid and their president Ramon Calderon. "I'll say it in no uncertain terms: Calderon and his colleagues are single combatants, as are the Italians and the English. In football it is pure selfishness that rules. There is little common ground among the clubs."

German teams were successful in Europe in the 1990s and early 2000s but Rummenigge said Bundesliga clubs would no longer be a match for Spanish clubs raking in TV rights money or English clubs with wealthy foreign investors. He said he hoped for a salary cap and a central system of marketing to combat the growing financial inequality.

"I dare say that in the next 10 years you won't see a German club in the final of a European competition," he said. "What Werder Bremen have achieved against Barcelona and Chelsea in the Champions League is a miracle. If they make it past Barcelona it will be the eighth wonder of the world. Bremen received 23 million euros from TV, while Barcelona got 143 million euros. I hope the European Union puts a stop to these excesses of (Chelsea owner Roman) Abramovich and foreign television," he told Reuters.

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