32-team Club World Cup from 2025, next edition in Morocco, says FIFA chief Infantino

The FIFA president Gianni Infantino on Friday announced Morocco as the host of the 2022 FIFA Club World Cup, which is set to take place in early 2023 while confirming that the governing body is proceeding with plans for a 32-team Club World Cup.

Morocco will stage the event from February 1-11 under the old format with seven teams: the winners of the Champions League from the six confederations of the ruling body FIFA, plus a team from the host nation.

The news of Morocco hosting the event comes in the midst of uplifting performances from the Atlas Lions during the 2022 World Cup as they became the first African and Arab country to qualify for the semifinals in the tournament’s history. Morocco previously hosted the FIFA Club World Cup in 2013 and 2014.

The decision to award the Club World Cup was approved at the FIFA Council meeting, which was held earlier on Friday, and will feature seven teams, including Real Madrid as European champions.

The competition currently pits the winners of the main continental club competitions against each other every year, but the new version will feature 32 teams from across the globe and take place once every four years.

“It will be a Club World Cup of 32 teams, every four years, and the first edition will be in the summer of 2025,” the chief of the global football governing body said.

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, it was announced.

“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,” Infantino said.

“We’ve decided 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 the Club World Cup. Don’t forget that we were the only football organization in the world, at least at the international level, not to have organized competition during the pandemic.”

A reformed Club World Cup with 24 teams was originally scheduled to debut in 2021 in China but was scrapped to allow the 2020 Euros and Copa America to take place after a one-year postponement due to the coronavirus.

“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. They will be the best teams in the world invited to participate,” he added.

FIFA also confirmed that the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2023 will be hosted by the United Arab Emirates Football Association and the 2025 edition by the Seychelles Football Federation.

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