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Loew slams plan to expand World Cup


Germany coach Joachim Loew has warned football’s world governing body Fifa and European entity Uefa against tournament expansion plans and says coaches are not being adequately involved in decision-making.

“We coaches would certainly sometimes wish that our perspective from the sporting side of things be considered. But there are barriers,”he said in an interview.

The 56-year-old is critical of the development to increasingly more games and competitions in international football.

“Fifa and Uefa are responsible, they need a sense of proportion and have to find the right balance between commercial interests and a sporting perspective,” Loew said.

“If you look at over several years, the top players are physically and mentally at the limit. You have to be careful that you do not overdo things with too many games, because the quality must not suffer.

“Fans would then also turn away and the interest would subside. If you have a good product, like football, you should also think about limiting it to keep the quality high.”

On January 10, the Fifa Council is to decide on an increase in the number of participants from the tournament from 2026. But Loew said plans to increase the number of teams at the World Cup finals were not yet fully thought out and the current 32-team format was “absolutely balanced.”

A tournament loses sporting quality when, as in this year’s European Championship, three from four teams can qualify from their group or a team can progress with three points (as tournament winners Portugal did with three draws and third place in their group), Loew said.

“I did not like this trend. This means that many teams change their tactics and no longer play with an open visor,” he added.

World champions Germany will meanwhile be looking to stamp their authority on their qualifying group for the 2018 World Cup and to have new players come into the squad and play at the highest level, Loew said.

Although German football federation DFB president Reinhard Grindel has suggested the Confederations Cup be scrapped, Loew said the tournament in Russia from June 17 to July 2 would be an opportunity for players to press their claims for a place in the national team.

“I’m a bit divided. Sure, you should not overstretch everything,” he said. “There are, of course, different perspectives. But for some players, participating in such a tournament can really be a good opportunity to present themselves and play to a higher international level. If they are on the level with (group opponents) Chile, that’s good,” he said. “This can lead to a further development. For heavy-duty players with a lot of international games, championship and Champions League, one has to look at the load individually. It has pros and cons.”

Loew said he and his coaching team would choose the Confed Cup squad carefully, bearing in mind an Under-21 European Championship was also taking place. However, he generally looked at the advantages of such a tournament.

“One advantage is that at the Confed Cup you have the opportunity to integrate young players better than with individual qualification games, which surely will be important with regard to the World Cup. For young players this is a good opportunity to present themselves at this level.”

The focus though will be on World Cup qualifying, where Germany have won all four of their games at the top of Group C, and developing up-and-coming players to world-class level. “There are some very talented players, but if we speak of world class, that is the level of a (Cristiano) Ronaldo, a (Lionel) Messi. This must be the benchmark for a team that wants to defend the world title,” he said. — DPA

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