Press beat column: separate siblings

Thanks to their unbundling experts, RB Leipzig and RB Salzburg are allowed to duke it out. But wildness reigns elsewhere as well.

Similarities with RB Leipzig are purely coincidental: RB Salzburg players celebrate a goal Photo: apa/dpa

What the abbreviation FKK stands for is widely known. Friends of nudism like to lie naked on beaches and lakes, so far, so good. But only very few people know what the acronym FKKK is all about. The FKK is the Uefa financial control chamber for clubs. It checks whether everything in European soccer is above board. And that is necessary. Because on September 20, there will be a strange duel.

RB Leipzig will meet RB Salzburg in the Europa League. One club calls itself RasenBallsport, the other less uptight FC Red Bull. RasenBallsport is a Saxon euphemism intended to disguise what it is actually about. Both clubs grew up under the patronage of Austrian beverage and lifestyle magnate Dietrich Mateschitz. He provided everything that was needed: Diridari, know-how, capable personnel, real estate, strategic vision and staying power that blows around soccer traditionalists in Germany and Austria like a breath of ice.

They are now asking themselves how it can be that these two clubs, one the meat of the other’s flesh, are allowed to compete against each other, just like that. Isn’t that an out-and-out mess? Isn’t the conflict of interest obvious? Can’t these blood-related clubs work out the outcome of their sham battle to their liking? These are legitimate questions, which the friends of the free bodies…, no, of the financial control at Uefa have also recently dealt with.

First they spent a lot of money to have management consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers confirm the all-too-obvious, i.e. that the integrity of competition was threatened by the clubs’ links to the drinks manufacturer and that Red Bull could exert undue influence on both clubs, oha, and then they took measures to which FC Aufputschbrause Salzburg in particular had to bow. Basically, both clubs acted as if they didn’t come from the same parent company. One "unbundled" the other. Experts in unbundling can be found in any good law firm.

As different as Seehofer and Merkel

So they went to work fresh: Salzburg’s Rudolf Theierl, who also sat on RB Leipzig’s board until 2014, resigned as Salzburg’s CEO. Austria’s serial champion canceled the cooperation agreement with the Sachsenkickers, Red Bull had to disappear from the supervisory board of the Salzburgers – and so on. So measures were taken to pacify the friends of nudist culture. This apparently worked out great, because now this Europa League match is being sold as if Ajax Amsterdam were meeting FC Midtjylland.

We have settled everything, dear soccer public, please don’t get upset, the papers are in order, purely factually these two clubs have as much in common with each other as Horst Seehofer and Angela Merkel, in other words almost nothing. Yes, well, they still have a common past, and they once had the same goals, but now it’s a completely different matter.

The disentanglement is, of course, overshadowed by the hype that has accompanied the rise of the RB club since its inception. Just one example: The German Football League (DFB) has placed the protective umbrella of an exemption clause over the Leipzig branch, bypassing the 50+1 rule. But if you want to rant and rave about the rascals at RB, take a look at the network of sponsors and Volkswagen’s multiple holdings in Germany’s top leagues. There is a veritable proliferation that even a nudist commission of the DFL could hardly remedy.

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