27 Febrero 2017 17:36
RB Leipzig's dream of playing in the Champions League next season – for the first time ever – looks set to be dashed.
UEFA regulations dictate that two teams with the same owner are not permitted to participate in the Champions League. And, unfortunately for RB Leipzig, RB Salzburg is owned by the same company: multinational energy drinks manufacturer Red Bull. The way things stand, it looks like the Austrian team will play in the Champions League because they are the clear leader in their league, while Leipzig occupies second place in the Bundesliga.
In an attempt to wriggle out of the ruling, RB Salzburg has claimed that Red Bull is no longer formally the owner of the club and that they simply have a sponsorship deal with them. If that's the case, this would not infringe on UEFA regulations. However, the organisation may still consider the two clubs to be interdependent.
The president of RB Leipzig, Oliver Mintzlaff, is confident that the ruling will not apply. 'We are not nervous at RB Leipzig... If we qualify there is no reason why we should doubt being able to play in Europe next season.'
For many German football fans, RB Leipzig represents the worst vices of modern football: in particular, the sport's commodification and a lack of respect for culture and traditional values. The team has been the focus of protests in stadiums across the country.
Since Red Bull bought SV Austria Salzburg in 2005, its influence in the world of football has grown massively. It has also purchased teams in the USA, Brazil and Ghana, many of which have raced to the top of their respective leagues.
In 2009, Dietrich Mateschitz's energy drink company purchased Markranstädt, a modest fifth-division club in the German league, for €350,000. They immediately changed the club's name to RasenBallsport Leipzig, redesigned the team's shield and kit, and moved to another stadium which they renamed the Red Bull Arena.
So far, they've invested over €100 million, half of which has gone towards signing new players. The team has been promoted four times in a row and is one of the biggest spenders in the German league.
Although their president denies it, Leipzig uses Salzburg as a sort of training ground for promising young players. In fact, during the last few seasons, 13 Salzburg players have packed their bags to go and play in Leipzig.
It's worth noting that Salzburg has also reaped benefits from their association with the German club. One clear example occurred in 2014 with Marcel Sabitzer. The Austrian forward was playing for SK Rapid Wien, but his contract contained a clause that said he wasn't allowed to sign with any other team in the domestic league. RB Leipzig signed him for €2 million and promptly loaned him to Salzburg.
During the same period the same thing happened with another player, Massimo Bruno, who was signed from Anderlecht and loaned to Salzburg.