Gianni Infantino has announced a new format to the Club World Cup – which will start in 2025 – and Zululion has looked at how it could play out if it was held this year.
FIFA have formally announced their plans for the Club World Cup – which will see its current format scrapped in 2025.
In fact, the last team outside of Europe to call themselves World Champions was Corinthians in 2012, and even then it was the first non-European win since 2006. As a result, the competition has faltered into a series of glorified friendlies for the Champions League winners.
New plans were drawn up for a new-look tournament in 2016, and in 2017 FIFA explored proposals to expand the competition to 24 teams and have it played every four years by 2021, replacing the FIFA Confederations Cup – an international tournament.
This iteration was meant to get underway in 2021, but covid cancelled the plans. Qualification for the tournament would include the last four Champions League and Copa Libertadores winners – with the rest earning sports through coefficient rankings.
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China was meant to be the host for the 2021 edition – and so it’s not too far out of the imagination they could line up as hosts for the first edition.
If the edition was to kick off this year: Real Madrid, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, and Liverpool would all qualify as recent Champions League winners.
Going off the current World Cup slots (13 European teams), the further nine teams could qualify through their coefficient rankings. This would see Manchester City, PSG, Barcelona, Manchester United, Juventus, Ajax, Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, and Roma join them.
That strong European contingent would have most of the favourites, but some South American sides could spring a surprise.
How many slots CONMEBOL would receive is tough to call , in the World Cup South America has four or five competitors, while in the 24-team proposal they were awarded six.
Sticking with the World Cup slots, Flamengo and Palmeiras would qualify as Copa Libertadores winners, having won it twice in the past four years respectively. The other three slots, through coefficient rankings, could fall to River Plate, Boca Juniors, and Gremio.
Gremio is an interesting one, having been relegated in 2021 – but performing well enough on the continent to still place well.
From the AFC: Al-Hilal, Ulsan Hyundai, and Kashima Antlers would qualify through the AFC Champions League. While Kawasaki Frontale and Jeonbuk FC from the coefficient.
Wydad AC, Al Ahly, and Espérance de Tunis would qualify through the CAF Champions League, with Mamelodi Sundowns FC in the coefficient. And in the CONCACAF Seattle Sounders, Monterrey, Tigres, and Club América.
That would leave two spots, one for the top coefficient-ranked OFC side, New Zealand’s Auckland City, and one spot for the winners of the hosts’ domestic league, presuming it’s China would be Shandong Taishan.
From here it’s easy to assume it would take on a format similar to the World Cup – with single leg knockout round clashes rather than the two-leg ties in most European tournaments.