Club World Cup: 24-team competition to start in 2021
All you need to know about the new tournament, which will replace the Confederations Cup on the calendar and kicks off in China in 2021.
Host nations and tournaments
The new format of the Club World Cup will include 24 teams in the competition instead of the current seven, as of 2021 and it will be staged every four years instead of the current annual tournament. The first edition of the new Club World Cup will be held in China, with the 2025 tournament widely expected to go to the USA, Mexico and Canada as part of the tri-nation preparations for the World Cup in 2026. The new FIFA tournament will replace the Confederations Cup on the calendar after FIFA confirmed in March the eight-team World Cup warm-up event will be scrapped with immediate effect.
The number of qualifying teams from each of the six FIFA Confederations has yet to be decided with UEFA lobbying for less participation. FIFA initially wanted 12 European clubs to be included in the tournament but the European governing body feels that is too many and has requested eight instead. These will comprise of the last four winners of the Champions League and Europa League. South America will have six teams with Africa, the Americas and Asia each providing three and Oceania one.
In order to avoid the monopolization of the competition by the strongest leagues, there will be a limit to how many clubs from the same country can qualify for the tournament. FIFA has not elaborated on this but as well as finalizing how many teams will represent each confederation a cap will be introduced with the idea of coefficients deciding the remainder of teams on the table. What is certain is that Spain will have two sides in the inaugural tournament, Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid, as both have won the Champions League and Europa League respectively in the past two seasons.
The current idea is for a group stage with eight groups of three teams, with the winners of each group going straight through to the quarter-finals. Unlike the format as it is now, from 2021 the tournament will be spread around several stadiums, probably four or five instead of the two that suffice at the moment.
The tournament will be played in June after the national league competitions have wrapped up. It is expected to last between 15 and 20 days in total, the same as the Confederations Cup. Although the final dates have yet to be announced for the 2021 Club World Cup, it is expected that the middle two weeks of June will be used.
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