Expanded FIFA Club World Cup 2025: Explaining 2025 format and timeline for new world tournament

club world cup

The 2023 FIFA Club World Cup will be the final iteration of the competition in its current guise before an expanded version is launched soon, featuring a host of teams from around the world.

FIFA already announced in December 2022 that the 32-team Club World Cup would debut in 2025, with clubs from around the world traveling to a central location to decide the world club champion. It will also switch to a timeline that reflects the current international World Cup, which takes place every four years.

Currently, the Club World Cup is held annually and features seven clubs in a week-long event that seeks to crown the world club champion. One of the clubs is from the host country, while the other six teams qualify as continental club champions from various confederation tournaments.

Looking to add intrigue to a competition that is rapidly gaining in prestige and importance, FIFA has confirmed a bigger field that will give more clubs the opportunity to secure the big trophy.

Extended format of the Club World Cup
Currently, the Club World Cup features seven teams in a knock-out format where clubs enter at various stages starting with the first round where the host nation plays the Oceania club champion. That winner advances to the quarter-finals, where the continental winners from North America, Asia and Africa enter. Finally, the European and South American winners of the continental titles begin their campaigns in the semi-finals.

An expanded 32-team field will debut at the 2025 Club World Cup, FIFA confirmed in December 2022.

This edition will be held every four years instead of the current annual format. It means there will be no version of the Club World Cup in 2024, with the new format starting in 2025.

“The first edition will be held in the summer of 2025,” FIFA president Gianni Infantino said at the closing press conference for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. “During that slot where we used to have the Confederations Cup in the past and it will be a bit longer because of course there are 32 teams.

“But they will be the best teams in the world. They will be invited to participate. All the details will be worked out in due course and we will decide where it will take place over the next few weeks or months in consultation with all parties involved. Of course, the details of that still need to be discussed and agree, but the 32-team tournament will continue, so it will really be like the World Cup.”

CONCACAF published its qualification requirements in March 2023, stating that the previous four winners of the CONCACAF Champions League will participate in the 2025 Club World Cup. This means that Monterrey and Seattle Sounders have already booked their place, while the 2023 and 2024 winners would also got into the field. If a club wins for the second time in one Club World Cup cycle, then CONCACAF stated that “the next best team in the FIFA rankings would qualify for the FIFA Club World Cup, with further details of the ranking system to be announced in due course.” ”

The format of the tournament will mirror the current (old) World Cup format with eight groups of four and a 16-team knockout stage. The format is set to be scrapped for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, which will expand to 48 teams.

Infantino has also announced the creation of a Women’s Club World Cup, although it is unclear whether it will follow the same expanded format or will first be trialled in the current smaller seven-team structure.

Criticism of expanded Club World Cup by FIFPro

An expanded version of the Club World Cup was met with anger by player union FIFPro, which cited a rapidly increasing load on players as more competitions continue to grow, evolve, and be created.

“FIFPro took note with the surprise of today’s decisions by the FIFA Council concerning the international match calendars for men’s and women’s football that could have serious consequences for and aggravate pressure on the welfare and employment of players,” the organization said in a statement last year.

“Despite an understanding, FIFPro reached with FIFA last week that a joint negotiation of the international match calendar would take place before the FIFA Congress in March 2023, these decisions were taken unilaterally without seriously consulting, let alone agreeing, with the players.”

“As the calendar is already overloaded, with longstanding domestic club competitions and ever-expanding international competitions, FIFA’s decision creates the risk of fixture congestion, further player injuries and a distortion of competitive balance.”

Source: The Sporting News

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