Moataz Al Shami (Dubai)
Mystery still surrounds the future of the Club World Cup, after the International Football Association announced the change of the tournament system, to be held with the participation of 24 teams since last 2019, and decided to give China the honor of organizing it in the “summer of 2021”, but everything changed due to the “Covid-19” pandemic, which The launch of the new “FIFA” dream was postponed, and thus the tournament was withdrawn from China, and its continuation in the current form, which reappeared again a few months after its cancellation.
Al-Ittihad newspaper’s follow-up revealed that FIFA did not close the file of amending the World Cup system in its new form, as the sources revealed that the International Federation is still moving in this framework, to set a deadline for the tournament between “summer 2023 or 2024”, and everything that happened “ According to the official sources in the International Federation, Gianni Infantino decided to harness all possibilities for the dream of reducing the World Cup for national teams, to be held every two years instead of 4 years first, and then it will be thinking about the World Cup and its new form, and setting a date for dealing with the World Cup teams, to not put pressure on The clubs of the world and Europe in particular, especially with the European Club Association rejecting the proposal, in addition to the rejection of UEFA and the threat not to allow the clubs of the “old continent” to participate.
The sources indicated that the Club World Cup may be a “material” compensation for the “Super League” project that was aborted a few months ago, as the financial returns will be very large for the participating teams, which are estimated, according to an internal study of the International Federation, between 300 to 450 million. Euros, which contribute to a large extent in compensating international clubs for the “Super League” file, in addition to the confederations obtaining a percentage, in exchange for allowing the clubs to participate in the new “FIFA” championship.
The world is still suffering from the “Covid-19” pandemic, which has caused financial losses to European clubs alone, exceeding 7 billion euros, and a recession for the sponsoring and advertising companies in the football market and its global championships, which may prompt “FIFA” to postpone the idea of the tournament to be held. In “Summer 2024”, to search for sources of funding and sponsorship that will achieve the desired success.
The current version of the Club World Cup may be the last in the current form that requires the participation of 7 teams, including the representative of the host country, in light of FIFA’s intention to launch the new version of the Club World Cup, which will be very exceptional, whether next year or the next, according to What was confirmed by the sources in the International Federation.
The current format of the tournament was met with technical criticism due to the arrival of the European champion late in it, to start his journey from the semi-finals, while the rest of the teams compete from the first round, especially the host team, which needs to play two strong matches, and win in them to reach the semi-finals to face either the European champion, or Latin American champion to reach the final.
The new tournament will consist of 24 teams, with 8 clubs from Europe, 3 from South and North America, 3 from CONCACAF, 3 from Africa, the same from Asia, and a club from Oceania, and the tournament will be held in a group system.
And the European Club Association had confirmed that it would not participate in the Club World Cup if the number of participants was raised to 24 teams, as the association, which represents 232 European clubs, headed by Italian Andrea Agnelli, president of Juventus, indicated in a letter to Infantino at the time, to “the categorical refusal.” to ratify the expansion of the Club World Cup.” This is despite the fact that FIFA’s decision in 2018 was talking about holding the tournament every 4 years, and it may also change to be held every two years and not 4 to ensure an increase in the injection of funds to clubs.
According to the old perception, the distribution of European clubs will be through the qualification of the winners of the Champions League and the European League between 2022 and 2023 or 2024, and in the event that a team wins twice, the right to runner-up in the last European Champions League will be to participate, while South America will participate in 6 clubs, which are the champions of Copa Libertadores and Suda Americana. For two editions, and in Asia, 3 Champions League title holders qualify for the next two editions, along with the winner of a play-off between the runners-up of the two editions. 3 teams too.
The International Federation, through statements made by Infantino, confirmed that the tournament will bring additional income to the participating clubs, and it will also be an opportunity to launch a “real Club World Cup”, which will have positive technical and other benefits on football for the continental champions, other than the expected technical and club excitement between for clubs.
For his part, Windsor John, Secretary-General of the Asian Confederation, confirmed that the Club World Cup has become the most important tournament hosted by the continent of Asia through its frequent residency in Japan and the UAE, in addition to hosting it previously in Qatar, which means that Asia is the closest to hosting the first edition of the Club World Cup, in its new form. Whenever FIFA sets its final date.
He said: The tournament would have been held in its new form in China 2021, but it was postponed due to the “pandemic”, and we in the AFC are in constant contact with “FIFA”, and we support all its plans for development in all competitions. It was its timing. On his opinion of the new format, he said: Indeed, it will bring enormous benefits, and we agreed on it previously, and I think that the project exists, but it remains only to resolve the issue of timing, and not conflict with the World Cup for the teams, especially if the latter is reduced to be held every two years.