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Football legends divided on merits of expanded World Cup

Vogts, Rummenigge and Seller rail against Fifa's decision while Maradona and Eto'o lead praise for expanded tournament format.

El presidente del Consejo Directivo del Bayern, Karlheinz Rummenigge.

Former Germany coach Berti Vogts has said he was left “horrified” by Fifa’s decision to expand the World Cup to 48 teams from 2026.

“It’s incredible. If what they are trying to do is to bring an end to the World Cup they only need to continue on the same path. I don’t understand it. This is no longer my World Cup,” the Borussia Mönchengladbach great, who won the World Cup in 1974, said. “I’m absolutely horrified.”

Rummenigge: "It's a mistake"

Bayern Munich president Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who also holds the same post at the European Club Association, also spoke out against the decision: “It is a mistake. It’s a political decision, not a sporting one. I don’t see the need to change a system that has been successful with 32 teams,” Rummenigge told Bild.

Uwe Seeler, a runner-up with West Germany in 1966, also weighed in and said the expansion of the European Championship had already proved that such ideas work against the appeal of international tournaments.

"It's going to be boring"

“It’s going to be boring and it will do football no good, as we saw at Euro 2016. But it’s although obvious that something like this was going to happen to make more money.”

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Maradona in favour

Others said they were in favour, however, including 1986 winner Diego Maradona, who believes it will generate greater interest in the sport in countries that do not regularly qualify for the World Cup: “It’s a great idea. Having more teams will inspire people to get out on the pitch.”

Carles Puyol, a 2010 champion, echoed Maradona’s sentiment. “The World Cup is a fiesta of football so the more teams, the better.”

Samuel Eto’o, who represented Cameroon in 2010, simply said: “Thank you for bringing the World Cup closer to the poor.”


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