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Rummenigge suggests World Cup pre-qualifying for some smaller nations

Serge Gnabry scores his first against San Marino.
Serge Gnabry scored a hat trick in his senior team debut for Germany.

MUNICH -- Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has rekindled a debate about the role of smaller soccer nations in qualifying after Germany thumped San Marino 8-0.

"Now we are playing San Marino, Kosovo, Gibraltar. I am asking myself why there are no qualifications for such small nations," Rummenigge said in an interview with Sport-Bild newspaper, due to be published Wednesday.

Rummenigge suggested such countries should go through pre-qualifying before they joined the main qualifying groups for tournaments such as the World Cup and European Championship.

Rummenigge also complained about the one country-one vote system in FIFA and UEFA, saying that votes of smaller nations carried the same weight as that of football power Germany.

The two topics come up fairly regularly in German media.

After the San Marino result, Bayern forward Thomas Mueller said that the the country's part-timers had tried their best, but that the match had little in common with "professional football."

In response, San Marino Olympic Committee spokesman Alan Gasperoni put out an open letter listing 10 reasons for such games to be played.

One of them was that it gave an opportunity to San Marino kids to watch the World Cup champion in action and that football belongs to everyone who loves the game.

The letter concluded that, even though Germany may wear beautiful shirts, "you will always be the ones who wear white socks with their sandals" -- poking fun at a fashion item sometimes worn by German tourists.

Philipp Lahm, the Bayern captain, disagreed with his own chairman, saying small clubs and small nations looked forward to such games.

"I think for them it was the biggest game of the year, maybe even in several years," Lahm said of San Marino. "They were looking forward to it and that's what football is all about, joy."


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