The head of Germany's FA has warned FIFA against being too hasty in its plans to expand the World Cup. Reinhard Grindel also said the DFB believed the 'tried and tested' 32-team format was still the best.
Reinhard Grindel, president of the DFB (German football association), said on Thursday that FIFA President Gianni Infantino and the rest of the FIFA Council would be well advised to take their time to consider all the pros and cons of expanding the World Cup, when they discuss the issue in Zurich early next week.
"The member associations only received the FIFA factsheet, which outlines the four alternative formats that are currently up for discussion, just before Christmas," Grindel said. "What we need now is a broad debate within the associations and confederations. A decision must not be taken in haste."
Grindel said that each of the four FIFA proposals; two that would see the number of team increase to 40 teams and two that would take it up to 48, had serious flaws.
'Tried and tested' format still best
"At the DFB we are fundamentally convinced that the tried and tested format with 32 participating nations should remain in place," he said. "Past World Cups have always been tournaments that have enthused players, spectators and sponsors alike. So why change it?"
While he said the DFB accepted FIFA's arguments that more needed to be done to develop the game in Africa and Asia, he questioned whether expanding the World Cup was the best way of trying to do this.
"If we overdo it in terms of the burden placed on the players, I believe that there is a grave danger, particularly in Europe, that this could lead to major conflicts with the clubs and the leagues," he said.
'Immense reservations' about watering down competition
At the same time he said that he had "immense reservations" about the danger of watering down the tournament to an extent that it could become less attractive in its "core markets," and noted that it was important to take the time to reach a solution that European associations could support.
Asked about the fact that the DFB won't be represented at next week's talks in Zurich, following the resignation of his banned predecessor, Wolfgang Niersbach, Grindel conceded that this was not an ideal situation. However, he said he believed the DFB would be in a better position to shape European football policy after the UEFA Executive Committee election in April, when he will be a candidate. He also said he would take every opportunity he could to pitch the DFB's position, when he attends the FIFA awards ceremony known as "The Best" in Zurich on Monday.