FIFA President Gianni Infantino’s proposal for for a 48-team World Cup is complete insanity, risking the health of the players and the reputation of the competition, argues Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke.
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, along with a rival submission to increase the size of the tournament to 40 teams.
“I am totally against it. It is complete insanity,” Watzke told Reuters. “The World Cup is the biggest thing in football and should not be played around with.”
He said players were already playing far too many high intensity matches, in several competitions simultaneously.
“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,” Watzke said.
“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 told Reuters: “The proposal for a 48-team World Cup will be discussed at the FIFA Council during the next two days.”
Infantino’s proposal would see 16 teams pre-qualify for the finals while 32 other countries would play a one-off knockout match. The winners of the knockout matches would then join the already qualified teams in the group stages of the finals.