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Sep 11, 2007

Blatter favors Women's World Cup expansion

CHENGDU, China -- FIFA president Sepp Blatter favors expanding the Women's World Cup to 24 teams despite the 11-0 rout in the tournament opener.

Germany's embarrassment of South American champion Argentina on Monday raised questions about the depth of women's soccer and whether even the current 16-team field is too weak.

"Definitely, I didn't like this result," Blatter said Tuesday. "This is not good when we look forward in the future. This will not enhance the chances to do it [expand] , but it's only the first match.''

After the tournament, a decision will be made on expansion as well as the 2011 tournament host. Germany and Canada are front-runners, with Australia and Peru also candidates.

"We have realized that in all countries of the world, women they can play football," Blatter said. "And they also play football where their culture will not permit them to play in public."

"By saying that the game is now universal we should look at growing from 16 teams to 24 teams in order to give more countries the possibility every four years to meet with the best of women's football," he added. "For us it would be good if we could open this competition."

Australia coach Tom Sermanni is one of the most experienced coaches in international women's soccer, leading Australia since 1994 over two stints and also coaching in the former professional U.S. league. He was upset with the opening game.

"I was extremely disappointed to be honest," Sermanni said. "It's not a good advertisement for women's football."

"Women's football in South America is general has not kept pace with other parts of the world," he added. "And I would hope this would be a wake-up call for South America to say they need to put more resources into it."

Even Pellerud, who took Norway to the 1995 World Cup title and is now coaching Canada, said it would be a mistake to read too much into the opener.

"We shouldn't conclude after one game,'' Pellerud said. "I do not expect a lot of big margins here, but it's very visible when it's the first game."

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