FIFA president, Gianni Infantino has confirmed that FIFA will launch a 32-team men’s Club World Cup in 2025.
The new Club World Cup concept was initially meant to launch in China in 2021 with 24 teams but was cancelled due to the pandemic – and is now set for a further expansion from June 2025.
In a press conference ahead of Argentina vs France final on Sunday, the FIFA president dropped several bombshells after claiming that Qatar 2022 was ‘the best World Cup ever’.
Infantino said: “We have approved a 48-team World Cup format with 16 groups of three, of which the top two would then move to a knockout phase of 32, followed by 16, eight, four and then two.
“I have to say that after this World Cup and the success of the groups of four, and looking as well at some other competitions like the Euros for example where you have 24 teams and the top two plus the best third ones go to the next stage.
“Here, the groups of four have been absolutely incredible in the sense that until the last minute of the last match, you wouldn’t know who goes through. We will have to revisit or at least rediscuss the format – whether we go for 16 groups of three or 12 groups of four. This is something that will certainly be on the agenda in the next meetings.”
Infantino, who branded the Qatar World Cup as the “best ever”, revealed a number of decisions following a FIFA council meeting, including plans to launch a new friendly ‘World Series’ tournament involving four teams, each selected from four different confederations.
The FIFA president confirmed the 2022 Club World Cup will be held in Morocco in February next year and will feature seven teams, including Real Madrid as European champions. The larger competition, set for 2025, will take place every four years.
The international match calendar will also be altered from 2025, with one extended break spanning four matches in late September and early October replacing two separate windows in September and October. The other windows in November, March, and June would remain unchanged.
The hosts for the men’s World Cup in 2030 will be decided in 2024 and the Women’s World Cup for 2031 will be decided in 2025.
Infantino also announced a desire to create a new women’s Club World Cup and a new Futsal Women’s World Cup every four years.
“The details of the location still need to be discussed but it has been agreed and decided that a 32-team Club World Cup tournament will go ahead making it like a World Cup.
“I don’t know what the British press says or doesn’t say, but I know what we’ve decided and that is that there will be a Club World Cup of 32 teams to be played every four years and the first edition will take place in 2025 in the summer.
“During that slot where in other years it would be the Confederations Cup, it will be slightly longer because there are 32 teams so it will last a bit longer but they will be the best teams in the world who will all be invited to participate.
“But all of the details will be developed in due course and we will decide where it will take place as well over the next few weeks or months in consultation with all of the stakeholders.
“The FIFA Council has taken the decision now as a matter of principle to hold that Club World Cup. Don’t forget that we were the only football organisation in the world, at least at international level, not to have organised a competition during the pandemic.
“Everyone else postponed their competitions but then shortened them or played them [at a later date] but we had a Club World Cup planned in 2020 with 24 teams that was cancelled. It wasn’t replaced or postponed, and we did that because we wanted to allow for the Copa America, the European Championships and we wanted to protect the health and well-being of players.
“We didn’t want to over-burden the calendar. That brings me to another issue and allows me to underscore that when we talk about the [FIFA] product over the next four years, the Club World Cup is not included in that $11bn forecast. That forecast is without taking into account this Club World Cup. So I think we’re going to have an even greater sum that we’ll be able to invest in world football over the next four years.”