World Cup expansion roundly criticized in Germany | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 10.01.2017
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World Cup expansion roundly criticized in Germany

FIFA's decision to expand the World Cup to 48 teams has been met with widespread disapproval in Germany. The head of the German FA and the national team coach Joachim Löw were among the sharpest critics.

German football association (DFB) President Reinhard Grindel (pictured above, right), said on Tuesday that he was "not happy" about the decision passed unanimously by the FIFA Council at a meeting in Zurich earlier in the day.

"My big worry is that the football will be different, that the attractiveness of the game will suffer. We all like to see wide-open games. My fear is that now we will see more teams taking a defensive approach," said Grindel in a statement on the DFB's website. 

At the same time, he noted that even though the DFB didn't have a seat at the table, after his predecessor Wolfgang Niersbach was banned from all football-related activities by FIFA, the German FA had a duty to respect the decision and look to the future. Last week he had called on the FIFA Council not to be hasty in expanding the organization's showcase event.

No improvement from a 'sporting point of view'

The German national team's general manager, Oliver Bierhoff, said that a field of 48 teams for the "world's biggest and most important tournament" was too much and that this would detract from the event. 

National team head coach Joachim Löw (above, left), who had previously expressed his opposition to increasing the number of teams at the World Cup on more than one occasion, said that "from a strictly sporting point of view," he could see no advantage to extending the tournament.

Criticism from the Bundesliga ranks

There were also words of criticism from the Bundesliga, with Cologne's sporting director, Jörg Schmadkt describing the move as "idiotic." Schalke sporting director Christian Heidel said he was sure the quality of the football would suffer.

"If 25 percent of all FIFA members are allowed to take part, then this is no longer a tournament made up of the best teams in the world," he said.

pfd/ (SID,dpa)

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