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Mar 28, 2013

DFB chief against 'pre-qualification'

The German Football Association (DFB) president, Wolfgang Niersbach, has said he believes a 'pre-qualifying' stage for World Cup and European Championship qualification would be more damaging to smaller countries than helpful to bigger nations.

Speaking before Germany's recent back-to-back World Cup qualifiers against Kazakhstan, coach Joachim Low called for the introduction of 'pre-qualifying' stage to help cut down the schedule for national teams.

The idea is that smaller nations would compete against each other first to help limit the number of so-called 'meaningless' fixtures between countries of contrasting statures.

"The schedule is packed, and corrective actions are needed," Low had told kicker. "Personally, I'd prefer the introduction of pre-qualification."

However, Niersbach, also speaking to kicker, said that although he understood Low's point of view, he preferred the current system and said the DFB would not be calling for change.

"It is my deep conviction to treat the smaller nations with all respect. Against Kazakhstan, we witnessed what a game against us can mean for such a country," he said. "I back the competition for all 53 countries."

However, Niersbach, running for the UEFA executive committee on May 24, said he believed the expansion of the European Championship to 24 teams was a bad idea.

"I believe the expansion of the competition to 24 teams is a setback. The template with 16 nations is much clearer," he added.

"The excitement during the qualification period will decrease even more when 23 out of 53 nations qualify. But that's what UEFA decided, by democratic vote."

Niersbach also revealed that the DFB was preparing for two different scenarios in relation to the 2020 European Championship.

The organisation has not yet decided whether it will apply to be hosts for the group stages or try and secure the final three games of the competition, which is set to be held in a number of countries across Europe.

"We tend towards having two irons in the fire," Niersbach explained.

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