FIFA wants 24-team Club World Cup in 2021

Updated March 15, 2019

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A report distributed to FIFA’s ruling body calls for the new tournament to take place between June 17 and July 4, 2021.— Reuters/File
A report distributed to FIFA’s ruling body calls for the new tournament to take place between June 17 and July 4, 2021.— Reuters/File

MIAMI: FIFA Council members will be asked on Friday to approve a pilot tournament for an expanded 24-team Club World Cup in June-July 2021 featuring eight European participants, but plans for a worldwide Nations League are on hold.

A 17-page report distributed to the 37 members of FIFA’s ruling body calls for the new tournament to take place between June 17 and July 4 2021, replacing the Confederations Cup international tournament.

The new tournament is the result of a working group created by FIFA following opposition to an earlier proposed revamp presented at a meeting last year in Bogota.

The document said five of the six regional confederations were in favour of the proposal being tabled at Friday’s FIFA Council meeting in Miami.

However European governing body UEFA, which accuses FIFA of a lack of consultation and transparency over the issue, has opposed the vote citing scheduling problems.

Under the proposal to be discussed on Friday, UEFA, which had initially sought 12 teams in the tournament, will have only eight slots.

South America will have six qualified clubs, while Africa, Asia, North and Central America will each have three teams. One team will represent the Oceania region.

Qualification for the event would be at the discretion of the various confederations.

The tournament will see the 24 teams split into eight groups of three, with the eight group winners advancing to the quarter-finals.

According to the FIFA document, 90.4% of the governing body’s 211 member federations are in favour of a revamped competition and 60% back the 24-team tournament.

An earlier proposal for a revamped Club World Cup was to be bankrolled by a group of investors from Asia and the Middle East, but that funding offer was later withdrawn.

The FIFA document makes no mention of the funding for the new club tournament, stating only that the event will represent a “new source of revenue to reinvest in the game globally”, with cash generated staying “within football” and not going to “third parties”.

Plans for a worldwide Nations League have stalled after the governing body’s task force reported that it was unable to find consensus on a format for the potential money-spinner.

The task force said they had looked at various models for a Nations League competition, which is based on UEFA’s new tournament.

The original idea was for a worldwide qualifying system, based on regional confederations, with a ‘Final Eight’ tournament every two years to find the winner.

Yet after consulting with FA’s and regional confederations, the task force was unable to find agreement on a structure and also hit problems with those bodies’ existing commercial contracts, the report said.

Instead of putting a plan to a vote in Miami on Friday, the report said the task force had concluded that more work needed to be done in the next few months “before it will be able to come to conclusions and potentially make concrete proposals to the FIFA Council.”

Published in Dawn, March 15th, 2019