Katja Kraus vs. Gianni Infantino: The Governance Battle in Professional Football

Whether clubs or associations: When it comes to corporate governance, professional football is lagging far behind, as the European Championship has once again revealed. It’s good that experts are now putting the pressure on

In the wake of the European Championship, we have been discussing football more often than usual in recent weeks. And there have also been exciting topics beyond results, performances and tactical formations – for example with regard to UEFA. The organisers of the European Championship, who are committed to diversity, did not back up their words with deeds

On the contrary: the association banned the illumination of the Munich stadium in rainbow colours and courted autocrats who have nothing to do with diversity. Those familiar with UEFA’s structures, however, should hardly have been surprised by this. Among the 20 members of the “Executive Committee“there is just one woman (from Germany, the committee consists of Ex-Bayern board chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and DFB official Rainer Koch from Germany).

The situation is similar in other associations and clubs: The Supervisory Board of Bayern Munichled by ex-Adidas boss Herbert Hainer? A women-free zone. On the 17-member DFB executive committee is Hannelore Ratzeburg is the exotic. And even the FIFA Council only has a 16 per cent quota of women, despite full-bodied promises of governance. This is likely to contribute to the fact that President Gianni Infantino is free to do as he pleases.

Kraus, Papenburg, Steinhaus: “Football can do more”

An initiative led by former Bundesliga goalkeeper and HSV executive Katja Kraus is now pushing for more colourful, more mixed committees. Together with referee Bibiana Steinhaus, ZDF reporter Claudia Neumann, presenter Gaby Papenburg and five other female football experts, Kraus has presented a paper entitled “Football can do more”

In it, the authors call for, among other things a 30 percent quota for women in clubs and associations. We think so: If such a requirement is necessary anywhere, it is in the football business. Like the quota for supervisory boards, it could be the catalyst for breaking up old networks, professionalising committees and turning lip service to diversity into real practice

And let’s not fool ourselves: Professionalisation is also bitterly necessary for business reasons. Otherwise, the German “50+1 model” and the German club culture will come under further pressure. Anyone who doesn’t want football to become the plaything of the super-rich should therefore keep their fingers crossed for Kraus & Co Because only good governance and good supervisory boards can put the brakes on those who see investors as the royal road to professionalisation.