Salary cap in soccer
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German federation boss wants to consider salary cap in soccer

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It’s long been said that there are some aspects of American sports that European clubs would welcome if not for its ages of tradition.

One of the more popular theories is that the biggest clubs in Europe would welcome the elimination of relegation from the top flight. Another is the idea of a cap on player wages.

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German federation boss Fritz Keller proffered this idea Tuesday in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, and it will be sure to receive tepid reaction at best.

From Sky Sports:

“We must bring professional football closer to the people again,” he told the federation’s website. “We have to think about a salary cap. Commissions for player advisors and huge transfer sums are increasingly irritating society and alienate it from our beloved sport. [The coronavirus crisis] offers the opportunity to look ahead and to reposition football in order to preserve it for future generations.”

A few things about something that will almost certainly not take place. First and foremost, “bringing professional football closer to the people” is an admirable goal but a salary cap is just stopping the wealth potential of a new class of people (Unless, of course, they’ll also be putting a cap on how much executives and owners can keep in their coffers after a successful season).

Also, the first league to implement a cap, depending on how high the cap is, will immediately hamstring its clubs in terms of keeping their best players and maintaining depth. It would have to be universally adopted by all of the major leagues.

And watching how clubs like Real Madrid and PSG have operated, the idea that they’d accept something like this is frankly hilarious. Federation and confederations would have to double and triple its monitoring of off the books payments. A cap may also accelerate the idea of a super league.

On the other hand, the elimination of extra agent fees would be a fascinating experiment. It always reads funny when you know an agent is getting X percent of a transfer fee and then an additional pay-out by the club. This could definitely use some tinkering, at least in how it’s relayed to the public.

Bundesliga ready to play in May if government allows

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Germany’s top two flights are prepared to play soccer if they get the green light from the government.

That conditional is a massive one, but the German Football Federation has announced plans for the return of the Bundesliga and 2.Bundesliga. Multiple outlets say the target date is May 9, but the federation refrained from putting a firm date in its release.

The announcement comes just days after the Netherlands banned public events until at least Sept. 1.

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The matches will begin behind closed doors next month if the government okays the plan.

The federation sure seems to have done due diligence. It says that all laboratories “have guaranteed in writing” that the testing of footballers will not hinder their ability to test the general public. The federation is also donating around $540,000 in testing materials for publicly-funded healthcare.

The maximum amount of people at matches is listed down to the person, with 213 people in the stadium at Bundesliga matches with an additional 109 on the exterior. Those figures drop to 188 and 82 for matches in the second tier.

The federation has also allocated some of the money put into a solidarity fund by the Bundesliga’s four Champions League outfits. It will be dispersed to women’s sides and 3.Liga clubs that are not Bundesliga reserve sides (Bayern Munich II is in the 3.Liga).

We won’t jinx it, and we certainly hope the plan is sound… but my goodness would it be nice to watch some live soccer on our screens as soon as next month.

Criticism of German soccer chief Grindel growing louder

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BERLIN (AP) German football federation president Reinhard Grindel is under increasing pressure over allegations he hasn’t been open about outside earnings and over general discontent with his leadership.

Grindel, who has been in charge of the DFB since April 2016 after his predecessor Wolfgang Niersbach stepped down amid claims of corruption, conspicuously avoided the red carpet at the opening of the German football museum in Dortmund on Monday.

Grindel was accused by German weekly magazine Der Spiegel last week of failing to declare additional income of 78,000 euros ($87,000) for being chairman of the DFB’s subsidiary media management company in 2016 and 2017 – on top of his regular salary as DFB president.

The DFB issued a statement to reject the accusations, saying Grindel took on the position with its subsidiary company only after he became president, and so was not obliged to declare the earnings at the time.

But criticism of Grindel is growing louder.

“When you’re in such a position and such things come to light, you should at last have arguments to put them aside as soon as possible,” former West Germany midfielder Lothar Matthaeus said. “The DFB has been on shaky ground before.”

Niersbach stepped down in November 2015 amid allegations that Germany’s bid to win the World Cup in 2006 was helped by bribery. Niersbach’s predecessor, Theo Zwanziger, stepped down in 2012.

Former Germany captain Philipp Lahm, who retired after winning the World Cup in 2014, is being groomed as a possible replacement for Grindel.

Grindel was already under fire for his clumsy attempts to engage with fans while increasing the commercial appeal of German soccer. Monday night games, late kickoff times, and a ban on pyrotechnics have all proved unpopular with fans, who frequently display banners at games criticizing the DFB.

Grindel was embarrassed in 2017 when a scheme to allow China’s under-20 team to play against fourth-tier sides was abandoned due to protests from supporters displaying Tibetan flags.

Andreas Rettig, managing director of second division side St. Pauli, said at the opening of the new football museum that Grindel would not get a place in the its hall of fame.

“The DFB’s appearance has long been in need of improvement,” Rettig said.

More AP German soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/Bundesliga and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

FIFA to investigate 2006 World Cup bidding process

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FIFA’s Ethics Committee has announced that it has “opened formal proceedings” into the bidding process for the 2006 World Cup.

The tournament was held in Germany but world soccer’s governing body is investigating six individuals, including legendary German player and manager Franz Beckenbauer, about the bidding process.

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All six individuals under investigation are no longer working for the German FA (DFB) and include former DFB vice-president Beckenbauer, former president’s Wolfgang Niersbac and Theo Zwanziger, former secretary general’s Helmut Sandrock and Horst R. Schmidt, plus former financial officer Stefan Hans.

In a statement on FIFA’s website posted on Tuesday, they had the following to say:

“After examining the Freshfields report commissioned by the German Football Association (DFB), the investigatory chamber of the independent Ethics Committee has decided to open formal proceedings against the following individuals in the context of the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ host selection and its associated funding.”

Beckenbauer has already been fined and warned by a FIFA ethics judge after refusing to cooperate in Michael Garcia’s investigation into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding process.

FIFA also released the specific details as to why it is investigating the six individuals:

The chairman of the investigatory chamber, Dr Cornel Borbély, will lead the investigation proceedings as the chief of the investigation. He will examine all relevant evidence and hand over the case reports at the appropriate time, along with recommendations, to the adjudicatory chamber of the Ethics Committee.

Under the FIFA Code of Ethics, pursuant to the presumption of innocence, the investigatory chamber shall examine all circumstances of the cases equally. In this sense, all parties are presumed innocent until a decision has been passed by the adjudicatory chamber.

In the cases of Messrs Niersbach and Sandrock, the investigatory chamber will investigate a possible failure to report a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics, which could constitute a breach of art. 13 (General rules of conduct), art. 15 (Loyalty), art. 18 (Duty of disclosure, cooperating and reporting) and art. 19 (Conflicts of interest) of the FCE.

In the cases of Mr Beckenbauer, Dr Zwanziger, Mr Schmidt and Mr Hans, the investigatory chamber will investigate possible undue payments and contracts to gain an advantage in the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ host selection and the associated funding, which could constitute a breach of arts 13, 15, 18 and 19 as well as art. 20 (Offering and accepting gifts and other benefits) and art. 21 (Bribery and corruption) of the FIFA Code of Ethics.

The list of possible violations may be supplemented as additional information becomes available.

German soccer to institute matchday anti-doping blood tests

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In a fight to eliminate steroid use from its game, the DFB has announced it will take unprecedented measures of randomly blood testing athletes on matchdays.

They also announced they will increase their anti-doping budget by $136,000 from last year.

The DFB last August announced they had agreed to institute blood tests during training, but came under fire from FIFA’s chief doctor Jiri Dvorak for limiting the testing to only during training.

Last season the NADA conducted a total of 2,300 anti-doping tests in Germany across the top two divisions, and DFB vice-president Rainer Koch (pictured) told German radio station HR that he plans to nearly double that this coming season.

15% of those 2,300 tests were blood tests, according to Koch, while the rest were urine tests. Koch says they will do about 120 postmatch blood tests throughout next season, which he described as “supplimentary” to urine tests.

However, there is some backlash, namely from German anti-doping website fussballdoping.de, which states that the current deal with the NADA, which was signed last August, runs through 2014, so the new measures cannot be implemented until 2015 unless they modify the old deal.

Blood testing for steroids has received harsh opposition in American sports, cited mostly as a privacy issue by those against it, but it has become slowly more accepted throughout the years.  With advancing drugs and masking agents often ahead of the current tests, blood testing has been tabbed as an eventual necessity by many in the field.