Schedule shift mooted for European football

Last updated 09:16 30/01/2013

Relevant offers


TotalFootball talks injuries, new Phoenix coach and the season ahead with Matt Ridenton Socceroos fall just short against Chile at Confederations Cup Party is over for the All Whites and their travelling fans in Russia after the Cristiano Ronaldo show Confederations Cup: All Whites leave Russia with major defensive concerns All Whites goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic enhances reputation against star-studded Portugal Former All White Jeremy Brockie scores in South African Cup final victory Confederations Cup: All Whites comfortably beaten by Cristiano Ronaldo-led Portugal Mixed emotions for All Whites coach Anthony Hudson after Portugal prove far too good Confederations Cup: How the All Whites players rated in their loss to Portugal Recap: All Whites v Portugal - Confederations Cup pool A match

A scheduling change away from winter football could be coming to Europe, according to Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

Rummenigge, who is also chairman of the 207-member European Club Association that lobbies for the rights of European clubs, told France Football magazine that it makes no sense that European clubs play in mid-winter.

"Everywhere, be it Germany, France or England, summer is the best period of the year. And that is the season we don't play," Rummenigge said in Tuesday's edition. "In deepest winter, when it is very cold and snowing, we play nearly all the time in conditions that are disagreeable for both players and spectators. It is not logical."

Rummenigge told France Football that FIFA and UEFA are "seriously thinking" about an overhaul of the football calendar so European leagues would open in January and wrap up at the end of autumn.

"My sense is that we are heading straight in this direction," the former West Germany international was quoted as saying of possible January-autumn European leagues.

Asked whether football's traditional summer break could be abandoned, Rummenigge replied: "It's completely possible, even if this idea does not thrill our friends in South America."

ECA vice chairman Umberto Gandini was not aware of the plan.

"That was a really nice surprise ... he is not reflecting the position of the ECA," Gandini told The Associated Press.

A sweeping overhaul of league and international schedules for the world's most popular sport would likely be far more complex than Rummenigge's comments suggested, perhaps impossible.

The suggestion that club football could monopolize the calendar and that FIFA's principal source of income, the World Cup, and UEFA's European Championship could be tacked on at the end of the year, when club football is finished, won't likely thrill officials at either of those governing bodies.

There are also major financial, broadcasting, geographical, sporting and cultural obstacles to any drastic overhaul - not least the issue of whether Europeans would attend and watch football in summer months when many of them traditionally sun themselves on beaches.

Responding to emailed questions from the AP, FIFA said today that the international schedule for 2018-2022 "will have to be completed by 2016 at the latest."

FIFA's Strategic Committee will discuss scheduling at its next meeting on February 15. Rummenigge sits on that committee.

"FIFA is not in a position to provide further information until after this meeting," it said.

Ad Feedback

UEFA did not immediately respond to questions.

Rummenigge told France Football that one "advantage" of modifying the calendar would be that club and international football could be separated entirely so players aren't called up by their countries when their clubs are still playing.

"In future, there could be two phases: one for club competitions, the other for qualifying matches or finals of the World Cup or the Euros," he was quoted as saying. "For one month, national teams would be completely free to call up their players."

FIFA's plans for the 2022 World Cup to be held in host Qatar's scorching summer months are also feeding debate about football's international calendar. Some in football, including UEFA President Michel Platini, have appealed for the flagship tournament to be moved to the Gulf state's somewhat cooler winter months. But that could punch a hole in the European club season as it now stands.

The English Premier League said a winter World Cup in 2022 "is unworkable and unacceptable to domestic European football."

Rummenigge suggested that any change in scheduling for Qatar could be used to make permanent changes to football's calendar.

"It is clear that there will soon be negotiations to examine what can be done. My point of view is that an eventual change to the calendar shouldn't be viewed critically but more as an innovation that could improve the general context," Rummenigge was quoted as saying. "Changing the calendar carries risks but it is also an opportunity. The issue of the calendar will become more important the closer 2022 gets."

- AP

Special offers
Opinion poll

Will Burnley retain their EPL status?

Yes, they've found a winning formula

Maybe, but there’s a long way to go

No. They lack quality in certain areas

Vote Result

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content