Joachim Löw speaks out against World Cup ex­pan­sion plans

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Joachim Löw has voiced his op­po­si­tion to any fur­ther ex­pan­sion of in­ter­na­tional football tour­na­ments.

The 2016 Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship in France saw the num­ber of par­tic­i­pat­ing teams in­creased from 16 to 24 and new FIFA pres­i­dent Gianni In­fantino would now like to see the num­ber of World Cup par­tic­i­pants in­creased from 32 to 48.

Some crit­ics lamented a de­crease in the qual­ity of football at this sum­mer’s Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship and Ger­man na­tional team coach Löw has warned that the sport’s gov­ern­ing body risks a sim­i­lar “di­lu­tion” at the World Cup.

“World Cups and Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships should fea­ture the best teams,” he said on Wed­nes­day in Hamburg.

“When you keep in­creas­ing the num­ber of teams, you di­lute the qual­ity. In my opin­ion, from a sport­ing per­spec­tive, the tour­na­ment is per­fect with 32 teams.”

Löw also ques­tioned the po­lit­i­cal mo­tives be­hind such an ex­pan­sion, sug­gest­ing that In­fantino is hop­ing to ap­peal to the nu­mer­ous small football as­so­ci­a­tions which make up FIFA and which all com­mand equal votes but whose na­tional sides rarely qual­ify for the World Cup fi­nals.

In­deed, In­fantino owes his elec­tion as Joseph Blat­ter’s suc­ces­sor to a man­i­festo pledge to in­crease the num­ber of World Cup par­tic­i­pants to 40.

This has now been in­creased to a to­tal of 48 to al­low for a play­off round fea­tur­ing 32 teams with the 16 vic­tors join­ing 16 seeded teams in the group stage.

Speak­ing to Ger­man news­pa­per Welt am Son­ntag at the week­end, Löw did rec­og­nize that the ex­pan­sion plans do “open up the path for smaller na­tions to take their place on the big stage.”

But the 2014 World Cup win­ning man­ager also warned that ex­panded sum­mer tour­na­ments place added men­tal strain on play­ers who al­ready have to deal with a busy sched­ule dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son.

“We must be clear that the qual­ity [of football] could suf­fer in the long term,” said the 56year-old. “We must be care­ful not to overdo it.”

Ger­man football league (DFL) pres­i­dent Rein­hard Rauball al­ready ex­pressed his op­po­si­tion to an ex­pan­sion of the World Cup in an in­ter­view with Sport Bild in Septem­ber.

“Both the DFB and the Bun­desliga are against an ex­pan­sion of such tour­na­ments which would im­pact neg­a­tively on play­ers, clubs and fans,” he told the Ger­man mag­a­zine.

The new for­mat is due to be dis­cussed at the next meet­ing of the FIFA Coun­cil in Zurich on the 13-14 Oc­to­ber, where the idea of a re­gional World Cup will also make the itinerary.

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