Karl-Heinz Rummenigge announced last month that he would not run for re-election as chairman of the European Club Association, a position he's held since the group was formed back in 2008. He now has officially bid his colleagues at the ECA farewell.
In an official statement on Bayern Munich's official site, Rummenigge reflected on his service for the ECA and remained highly optimistic about the future of the organization, as it builds on everything that it has already contributed to European club football:
It was an honor to work with you. I think we've done the right thing. The ECA has become a strong and fair partner for UEFA and FIFA. When we first started, we had visions. Today, we can proudly say that within a decade, ECA has achieved more than we dared to hope. And since nobody is given an office for life, I can leave this position with a good conscience.
Among other accomplishments, Rummenigge was one of the chief architects of the restructuring of the UEFA Champions League format when rumors were circulating about the potential creation of an elite European super league comprised of the continent's most elite clubs - formerly known as the G-14. The reformatting of the competition satisfied the demands of Europe’s most powerful leagues while preserving representation and financial opportunities for the 'smaller' European clubs to qualify for Europe's most prestigious tournament.
Rummenigge made sure to reiterate the importance of harmony among European clubs in his farewell message:
What makes me happy is the fact that over the past ten years we have never given up our sense of solidarity. The small ones understand the big ones, and the big ones bear responsibility for the small ones. The reform of the European club competitions has proven this again. Everyone will benefit from increased revenue, and we have increased solidarity payments by more than 40 percent from 199 million to 284 million euros. I am proud of that.
UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin also offered his gratitude for Rummenigge's service during an address to the ECA in Geneva, Switzerland on Monday - per UEFA's web site;
You [Rummenigge] have carried out fantastic work since the ECA was created. You can be proud of yourself. You have managed to bring all European clubs together and make their voices heard in order to best defend their interests. Preserving the unity of European club football can hardly be considered the easiest match you have ever played, but it represents one of the greatest victories of your illustrious career.
The ECA is set to announce a new chairman in just two weeks’ time, on September 19th. Juvetnus chairman Andrea Agnelli has been heavily linked as the man to replace Rummenigge, according to Fox Sports Italia.
Regardless of who eventually succeeds Rummenigge, his parting wish in his farewell was as heart-felt as his love of the game itself:
Finally, if I can make a wish to you all: Take good care of this wonderful game. We must protect it.