HomeFootballFIFA reveal Club World Cup expansion to 32 teams for US-hosted 2025 edition

FIFA reveal Club World Cup expansion to 32 teams for US-hosted 2025 edition

FIFA reveal Club World Cup expansion to 32 teams for US-hosted 2025 edition

FIFA has disclosed plans for a revamped 32-team Club World Cup in 2025, to be hosted by the United States from June 15 to July 13.

This expanded annual tournament, confirmed by FIFA President Gianni Infantino during a meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, will showcase clubs from all six confederations, with Europe contributing 12 teams.

The 2023 FIFA Club World Cup – consisting of just seven teams (one from each of the six confederations plus another from the host nation) – is currently underway in Jeddah.

Recent Champions League winners Chelsea, Real Madrid and Manchester City have earned automatic qualification for the revamped 2025 competition, while Arsenal could snare a spot if they secure this season’s UCL title.

Additional participants, including Bayern Munich, Paris St-Germain, Inter Milan, Porto and Benfica, have secured their places through the coefficient pathway. The criteria has ruled high-profile English clubs Liverpool and Manchester United out of contention for the lucrative event, however.

The expanded tournament is scheduled in the same timeframe as the previously held Confederations Cup for international teams, a year before the FIFA World Cup. FIFA emphasised that the summer dates were chosen to align with the international match calendar and allow ample rest time before the commencement of domestic seasons.

Despite FIFA’s intentions – including three-day rest minimums for teams competing at the Club World Cup – concerns have been raised about player welfare with Maheta Molango, Head of the Professional Footballers’ Association, leading public criticism.

“Players have become pawns in a battle for primacy between football’s governing bodies, ith no one willing to take a step back or to work collaboratively to create a sustainable calendar,” Malongo said.

“These decisions have consequences – not just for players who are being pushed until they break. But for the future quality of these tournaments, with players becoming injured or withdrawing from games as they make their own decisions about how to manage what have become ridiculous demands.”

The English Premier League, for one, could start just four weeks after the 2025 FIFA Club World Cup final, fuelling workload fears.

FIFPro, the world players’ union, echoed these concerns, citing a disregard for players’ personal and family lives.

“The expanded competition will undercut the rest and recovery time of these players at the end of the 2024-25 season, and further disrupt national employment markets by changing the balance between national and international competitions,” FIFPro’s statement read.

“Players will have to perform at the end of an 11-month season with little prospect of getting enough rest before the following season starts.

“The extreme mental and physical pressures at the pinnacle of the game is the principal concern of players with multiple club and national team competitions, leading to exhaustion, physical injuries, mental health issues, diminished performance, and risks to career longevity.”

In addition to the Club World Cup expansion, FIFA announced a new Intercontinental Cup competition starting in December 2024. This competition will feature the Champions League winners against a team emerging from intercontinental play-offs.

First held in 2000, the FIFA Club World Cup went into hiatus due to financial difficulties for the next four years but has been held every year since 2005. Real Madrid won the competition for a record sixth time in 2022.

The 2023 FIFA Club World Cup semi-finals see Brazilian club Fluminense take on Egypt’s Al Ahly on December 18 and Japanese side Urawa Red Diamonds face Premier League heavyweights Manchester City on December 19. The final is scheduled for December 22 at King Abudallah Sports City in Jeddah.

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