Lausanne - 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 said 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 said 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 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
A FIFA spokesperson simply said: "The proposal for a
48-team World Cup will be discussed at the FIFA Council during the next two
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 Mkhitaryan.
"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.
"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 on-wards,
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 proposed changes.
These have been criticised 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.