Karl-Heinz Rummenigge had quite a lot to say on the Sports Studio on ZDF shortly after Bayern Munich’s 2-1 loss at Eintracht Frankfurt (Spox). Historically, Rummenigge is not one to hold back when he feels passionately about certain subjects and the emotions were certainly running high after Bayern’s second disappointing performance in just five days after winning the FIFA Club World Cup in Qatar. Bayern’s current injury situation and missing personnel due to coronavirus quarantining hasn’t helped.
Among a long list of topics, Rummenigge explained how the transfer market has completely changed since as a result of the financial hardships posed by the coronavirus pandemic and how salaries will start to change as well. Even with a largely successful, well-run club like Bayern, the effects have been felt and Rummenigge is anticipating big adjustments in terms of player’s salaries after this season is over.
It was already clearly evident over the summer that transfer fees had to be reduced so that they wouldn’t be completely unrealistic given the grave circumstances.
“The transfer fees have already decreased, that can also be seen with Leroy Sane. And that was also necessary. The salary level hasn’t been adjusted with Corona,” Rummenigge explained. “That hasn’t been felt yet. But maybe in the summer. Everything that I hear from south Europe, but also from England and Germany, is that the liquidity still isn’t like before. And then we have to adapt the salaries. The salaries’ upper limits have been discussed since 2008. That was in that time completely rejected, because it wasn’t in accordance with the competition laws. Maybe now a Salary cap is accepted because we have Corona. An alternative could be to make the financial fair play more strict and to clarify the fines imposed for its violation.”
Manchester City was initially asking for a much higher mark than the €50 million Bayern finally paid to sign Sane, and luckily Dayot Upamecano had the release clause €42.5 million of in his contract with RB Leipzig, so it was feasible enough for Bayern to get him. Bayern might’ve been willing to pay him higher wages pre-coronavirus, but that’s something they had to calibrate at the negotiating table with Leipzig.
There’s also been underlying tensions between clubs in the Bundesliga and UEFA since all European competitions have continued this season, bar having fans inside the grounds. The German government’s coronavirus guidelines regarding travel and quarantine are justifiably strict, which creates complications for European competition. Leipzg’s home leg against Liverpool in the Champions League had to be played in Budapest, Hungary at the PUSKAS Arena. Borussia Monchengladbach’s “home” leg against Manchester City next week will also be played Budapest as well.
It’s easy for fans and people who aren’t fans of football to see these athletes and clubs in a spot of privilege being able to travel and get paid to do what they love while a lot of people around the world still really can’t go anywhere. In that respect, Rummenigge feels that UEFA puts players and staff members in a difficult spot. With UEFA, they don’t really have much of a choice, but he hopes that can change somewhere along the line.
“We don’t want to have a special role. We can’t tell UEFA, we don’t play. UEFA forces us to play. You can’t blame German soccer that Leipzig had to travel to Budapest, that Mönchengladbach had to travel to Budapest,” Rummenigge said. “That’s not decided by the German clubs, but by UEFA. It’s worthy of discussion. But we exercise our profession and try to maintain it. I was myself tested thrice in Doha. The players are tested everyday and, nevertheless, we have Thomas Müller’s case. We have to take care we don’t turn the football debate into a debate about envy. There are players with crazily high salaries. For me, it’s interpreted a bit too much in the direction of, ‘they’re privileged, they get to play, the players earn incredibly high salaries.’ Of course you are privileged because you can play.”