Europe’s top clubs back FIFA’s expanded plan for the Club World Cup
FIFA President Gianni Infantino first unveiled proposals for the new 32-team event ahead of the World Cup final in Qatar last December. He said the new event would feature 12 European teams and would be played every four years from 2025.
The game’s world governing body has been criticized by a group of national leagues for a lack of consultation on the new Club World Cup, but the European Club Association (ECA) has now endorsed it, along with plans of FIFA to introduce an annual match between the Champions. The league winners and the team that wins an intercontinental play-off tournament and a Women’s Club World Cup.
ECA’s new Memorandum of Understanding with FIFA runs until the end of 2030 and also acknowledges ECA’s support for the new international match calendar approved by the FIFA Council earlier this month.
The schedule memorandum of understanding is crucial to the functioning of the club-country relationship as it governs the release of players for international dates.
The World Cup Club Benefits Scheme, which compensates clubs for releasing players to compete in the tournament, will now total £289.1million for the 2026 and 2030 finals at 48 teams, up from 170, £2 million for 2018 and 2022.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino said: “Today is an important day for the future of football and its long-term stability. We are very pleased to renew and strengthen our cooperation agreement with ECA, a player important representative of clubs from all over Europe.
“The approval of the new international match calendar by the ECA provides the necessary balance between club and national team football.
“We have exciting projects ahead, including the new FIFA Club World Cup in 2025 and the new FIFA Women’s Club World Cup. Close collaboration with clubs in Europe and the rest of the world will be essential for the success of these events.
ECA President Nasser Al Khelaifi said: “The MoU recognizes the central role of clubs in football globally and ensures that they are properly represented in decision-making on matters that concern them.
“FIFA and ECA will also establish closer working practices on a revamped future Club World Cup, including sporting and commercial aspects for the 2025 edition, and work together on future editions, including on potential commercial rights management structures in the future.”
The World League Forum (WLF) – which includes the English Premier League among its members – criticized FIFA earlier this month for a lack of consultation on the schedule.
A statement from the WLF on March 15 read: “FIFA’s decisions, including the expansion of the 2026 World Cup and new versions of the Club World Cup, further encumber an already overloaded schedule and do not fit. account of the impact on the competitiveness of the national league and the welfare of the players.”
Additional reports by AP.