FIFA has big plans for the Club World Cup and this week approved plans for an extended tournament starting in 2025. Chelsea and Real Madrid are headed to the next competition, or even one after that, regardless of the outcome of the rest of the season.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino is determined to raise the profile of the highly infamous tournament and fill more of his organization’s coffers in the process.
Too often, in his opinion, the Club World Cup is the march of the recent season. Annual Champions The winner of his league enters the following winter’s seven-team tournament as the overwhelming favorite, winning the semi-finals, making it to the final, and often picking up the trophy.
He wants to shake things up, with 32 clubs participating in 32 clubs from 2025, and improved competitions, like the European Championships and World Cups that take place every four years. will be done.
But what would that competition look like? And how does it work?
I imagined what the 2022 Club World Cup would have looked like if these changes had been approved four years ago instead of this week. Summer instead of February.
Chelsea and Real Madrid qualify for extended Club World Cup
What was announced and who is participating?
What was once a 7-team tournament has been expanded to include 32 clubs.
The new format was originally set to be introduced in 2021, but the COVID-19 pandemic derailed those plans, forcing FIFA to continue with the shorter, sweeter version of the original.
But Infantino was rebellious in his quest for more exposure and bigger returns, so now the wheels are firmly in motion to bring his grand ideas to life.
Plans for a 32-team Club World Cup were announced Tuesday at the FIFA conference in Rwanda.
Nine of these 32 locations have already been talked about in the first 2025 tournament. The next team will be joined by 23 other teams.
What are the rules for extended tournaments?
First, the 32 locations are divided into 6 confederations as follows:
- UEFA (Europe) — 12
- CONMEBOL (South America) — 6
- AFC (Asia) — 4
- CAF (Africa) — 4
- CONCACAF (North America) — 4
- OFC (Oceania) — 1
- Host country — 1
These 32 teams will be divided into four groups of eight players each, as has been standard for international World Cups since 1998, but this will change in 2026…
This version of the Club World Cup only takes place every four years. First in 2025 (the summer between the next Euro and the World Cup), then he in 2029 and so on. However, that doesn’t mean the current seven teams are over. It is held annually, but should have a new name. Perhaps a revival of the Intercontinental Cup, as the Club World Cup was called from its inception in 1960 until it was rebranded in 2004.
The revamped Club World Cup takes place on the Confederations Cup calendar. The Confederations Cup is a now-defunct national team tournament that was often used as a practice event for larger tournaments. Held every four years from 2005 to 2017, it was a virtual rehearsal for host nations looking to host the World Cup.
Each tournament in that 12 years has been held in the same country as the next World Cup, so it is likely that the 2025 Club World Cup will be held in the United States, Canada and Mexico. means that one club in CONCACAF has an available host country spot, giving that federation five of the 32 teams.
That team includes continental champions from around the world and other teams that qualify through rankings.
More rankings are expected to be awarded in 2025 as the pandemic has negatively impacted the 2021-2025 qualifying period.
The quota for the 2025 tournament is as follows.
- UEFA (12) — the 4 most recent UEFA Champions League winners and the 8 most eligible teams in UEFA’s four-year ranking
- CONMEBOL (6) — Four recent Copa Libertadores winners and two of the strongest contenders in CONMEBOL’s four-year ranking
- AFC (4) — The last three winners of the AFC Champions League and the most eligible teams in the AFC’s four-year ranking
- CAF (4) — Winners of the 2021-22, 2022-23 and 2023-24 CAF Champions Leagues and the inaugural 2023-24 African Super League
- CONCACAF (4) — Four recent CONCACAF Champions League winners
- OFC (1) — Best OFC Champions League winner from OFC’s four-year ranking
- Host Country (1) — determined by the host country federation (likely CONCACAF)
2022 Club World Cup Players (Virtual)
The fun starts here.
Using the guidelines above for hypothetical Summer 2022 tournament locations, here are the clubs that would have qualified to give you an idea of how the new tournament would work.
- UEFA — Real Madrid (Spain), Chelsea (England), Bayern Munich (Germany), Liverpool (England), Manchester City (England), Paris Saint-Germain (France), Juventus (Italy), Atletico Madrid (Spain) ), Barcelona (Spain), Manchester United (England), Tottenham Hotspur (England), Porto (Portugal)
- CONMEBOL — Palmeiras (Brazil), Flamengo (Brazil), River Plate (Argentina), Boca Juniors (Argentina), Gremio (Brazil), Athletico Paranaense (Brazil)
- AFC — Al Hilal (Saudi Arabia), Ulsan Hyundai (South Korea), Jeonbuk Hyundai Motor (South Korea), Persepolis (Iran)
- CAF — Wydad AC (Morocco), Al Ahly (Egypt), Esperance de Tunis (Tunisia), Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa)
- CONCACAF — Seattle Sounders (USA), Monterrey (Mexico), Tigress UANL (Mexico), Club America (Mexico)
- OFC — Auckland City (New Zealand)
- Host Country — New York City (Based on CONCACAF, which hosts this Club World Cup — NYCFC was the 2022 Summer MLS Champions)
These 32 teams must be placed in 4 pots before being grouped.
As with most tournaments, the hosts take the first spot in Pot 1, and the exercise will feature a ‘Champions Pot’ consisting of four UEFA Champions League winners and three Copa Libertadores winners. join.
FiveThirtyEight’s Respected football power index (SPI) Rating is used to determine how the rest of the virtual pots will be seeded. SPI Ratings use difficulty-adjusted match results and underlying performance metrics to model a team’s offensive and defensive strength, giving a team’s overall strength on a scale of 0 to 100. Estimate.
- Pot 1: New York City, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Liverpool, Palmeiras, Flamengo, River Plate
- Pot 2: Manchester City, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United, Atletico Madrid, Tottenham Hotspur, Porto, Juventus
- Pot 3: Boca Juniors, Gremio, Athletico Paranaense, Widad AC, Al Ahli, Esperance de Tunis, Mamelodi Sundowns, Al Hilal
- Pot 4: Ulsan Hyundai, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, Persepolis, Seattle Sounders, Monterrey, Tigress UANL, Club America, Oakland City
One team is drawn from each pot to make up eight groups. I created these as a group in a simple simulation.
- Group A: New York, Atletico Madrid, Al Ahly, Tigress UANL
- Group B: Liverpool, Porto, Gremio, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motor
- Group C: Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Mamelodi Sundowns, Seattle Sounders
- Group D: Palmeiras, Paris Saint-Germain, Al Hilal, Monterrey
- Group E: Real Madrid, Tottenham Hotspur, Widad AC, Persepolis
- Group F: River Plate, Juventus, Boca Juniors, Auckland City
- Group G: Flamengo, Manchester City, Athletico Paranaense, Club America
- Group H: Chelsea, Manchester United, Esperance de Tunis, Ulsan Hyundai
As you may have noticed by looking at the group, it’s hard to imagine the Club World Cup being anything but a diluted version of the UEFA Champions League.
Among the above groups, the only European clubs in real danger of exiting the group stage without finishing first or second are bitter Buenos Aires-based rivals Boca and Liber. It is Juventus in line with.
Infantino hopes such competitions will raise the level of performance in the global game, given the dominance of European clubs and international teams.
But only time will tell if UEFA’s esteemed member club is actually under siege from rivals around the world, or if it takes a little longer to show that nothing has changed.
(Photo: Getty Images)