Bigger World Cup is "complete insanity", says Dortmund CEO
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[October 13, 2016]
By Karolos Grohmann
BERLIN (Reuters) - FIFA President
Gianni Infantino's proposal for a bigger World Cup is complete
insanity, putting more pressure on already stretched players and
risking damage to the sport's showcase event, Borussia Dortmund CEO
Hans-Joachim Watzke told Reuters on Thursday
FIFA President Gianni Infantino proposed this month increasing the
World Cup to 48 teams up from the current 32. A decision will be
taken in January, but FIFA is discussing it this week.
"I am totally against it. It is complete insanity," Watzke told
Reuters in an interview. "The World Cup is the biggest thing in
football and should not be played around with."
He said players were already playing too many games, in several
"Players are already permanently stretched too thin. For FIFA this
may not be important at all but we as a club have to go against it,"
"What will happen next? The next FIFA President proposes 84 clubs?
Look at the huge gaps in the qualifiers that already exist. The
qualifiers are at times so boring that any thought of a bigger World
Cup is crazy."
A FIFA spokesperson simply said: "The proposal for a 48-team World
Cup will be discussed at the FIFA Council during the next two days."
Watzke said the many competitions could prove a challenge for
Dortmund as well this season, following the departure of key
players, including Mats Hummels, Ilkay Guendogan and Henrikh
"In the last years we had a well-tuned team but this season five
players, of which three are key players, left and we brought in
eight young players," he said.
"We had a lot of respect for the season before the start and after
the first two months in all competitions we are absolutely on
Dortmund are four points off leaders Bayern and top of their
Champions League group, ahead of Real Madrid.
"Players like (new signings) Ousmane Dembele, Emre Mor or Raphael
Guerreiro... they do not know how it is to play in three
competitions at the same time so this is a challenge," Watzke said.
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Borussia Dortmund's chairman of the board Hans-Joachim Watzke sits
on the bench before his team's German first division Bundesliga
soccer match against Bayern Munich in Dortmund April 4, 2015.
"But we will play a good season although there will be setbacks, no
doubt, given the age of the team and the three competitions we are
playing in. That is something that cannot be avoided."
Dortmund are challenging for the Bundesliga, the Champions League
and the German Cup.
Off the pitch the club is expecting another successful season, after
posting a record 376 million euro turnover in 2015/16 that was
partly driven by transfer revenues.
"Our aim is to break the 400 million euro (turnover) mark by 2019,"
he said. "I do not rule it out for this season either but you cannot
accurately answer that yet. If we reach that it will be because of
the club's sporting success.
Proposed changes to the Champions League from 2018 onwards, giving
Germany, among other big leagues, four guaranteed automatic group
spots, could further boost revenues.
"I think all in all it is a good compromise," he said of UEFA's
These have been criticized by other leagues, who say bigger clubs
gain too much of an advantage.
"I am happy with this format. Bayern but also Borussia Dortmund will
participate in sharing more revenues from 2018 onwards and rightly
"Bayern but also us, we both helped to leave the mark on this
international competition in the past seasons," Watzke said.
(Editing by: Ossian Shine)
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