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Reports: Oliver Mintzlaff is no longer Head of Red Bull Global Soccer

He's still CEO of RB Leipzig, and this move likely isn't all that dramatic - certainly, that's the way RB Global sees it.

Vladimir Rys/Getty Images

Red Bull Global Soccer has long operated in a slightly opaque manner, presumably deliberately. Back in 2014, when it emerged that Oliver Mintzlaff had been appointed the head of RB's worldwide soccer operations, it was a revelation that immediately raised questions about Gerard Houllier's role with the organization - since he had been presumed to have that job.

Gradually, it became clear that Houllier retained a connection to RB Global, but Mintzlaff was the boss - but RB Global itself was hardly proactive about communicating its revised hierarchy. As such, no great surprise that the latest news from RB Global has emerged in similar fashion: raising as many questions as it answers.

That news is that Oliver Mintzlaff is no longer head of RB Global Soccer. No immediate word on his replacement, but the news was only sudden to those outside the organization. Per several reports, Mintzlaff has not been in charge at RB Global for "some time".

An official statement from Red Bull, reported by Leipziger Volkzeitung's SportBuzzer, clarified the decision somewhat:

This step has been planned for a long time and is the logical consequence of the growing tasks and challenges at RB Leipzig.

Fair enough. Mintzlaff has looked overloaded for a while now. reminds us that his job as RB Leipzig CEO is essentially two jobs, with the club intending to appoint a Managing Director to handle day-to-day business operations so Mintzlaff can focus on longer-term, big-picture management issues. On top of those two jobs, he had a third: head of RB Global Soccer.

Mintzlaff is no longer burdened by that third job, a decision Red Bull was quick to make sure it was clear was entirely voluntary (i.e. as much Mintzlaff's decision as that of anyone else) and not taken recently.

It has quickly been suggested that the precipitating factor in the reshuffle at RB Global is RB Leipzig's seemingly imminent qualification for next season's UEFA Champions League. RB Salzburg seems destined to qualify (as it does almost every year, making an annual exit before the Group Stage) also. Two Red Bull clubs in the same competition would seem to violate UEFA rules governing conflicts of ownership interest, and there is much interest in whether the RB team will be allowed to compete in the same tournament.

The official Red Bull position is that this is a non-issue, long settled by the fact RB Global Soccer has paid close attention to UEFA's rules and followed them. For example, RB Salzburg isn't technically part of RB Global Soccer. Yes, it looks and acts like a part of the same group as RBs Leipzig, Brasil, and New York - but it was removed from the portfolio of clubs overseen by RB Global some time ago (as always with Red Bull, it's difficult to identify exactly when), well before Mintzlaff removed himself from the organization.

As far as Red Bull Global Soccer is concerned, Salzburg is independent of the group and Red Bull functions purely as a sponsor of the Austrian club. And this is the arrangement it expects UEFA to accept when approving what it hopes will be two RB-branded teams applications to play in the 2017-18 Champions League. The process of "unbundling" Salzburg from RB Global Soccer has been ongoing for at least a couple of years, per Mintzlaff to SportBuzzer, and Red Bull is - in its public statements at least - confident there will be no complications with UEFA.

Indeed, in an earlier report from SportBuzzer, Ralf Rangnick suggested RBs Leipzig and Salzburg had been compliant with UEFA regulations for longer than the question of that compliance has existed in the popular imagination:

The fact I gave up my job in Salzburg in the second half of the year when I was promoted to the second league was a hint. But that we do our homework on the subject, we've been there for a minimum of two years.

To recap: Mintzlaff's step away from RB Global Soccer is not sudden, unexpected, or necessarily connected to the seemingly inevitable arrival of Salzburg and Leipzig in next year's Champions League - says Red Bull. Mintzlaff is still CEO of RB Leipzig, still doing the (more than, until that Managing Director is appointed) full-time job of running a Bundesliga club.

As to RB Global Soccer's leadership, no obvious word on Mintzlaff's successor, but Jochen Schneider was appointed as Coordinator of Global Soccer at Red Bull in 2015. Schneider arrived in the role having spent 16 years working a number of executive positions for VfB Stuttgart - where he also worked with Ralf Rangnick. The organization can probably carry on without Mintzlaff.