China to host expanded 24-team Club World Cup in 2021 - GulfToday

China to host expanded 24-team Club World Cup in 2021


FIFA President Gianni Infantino speaks during a press conference. Rueters

Shanghai: FIFA chief Gianni Infantino announced that China will host the inaugural edition of an expanded 24-team Club World Cup in 2021, hailing the decision as historic.

Infantino has been batting for the expansion of the FIFA Wold Cup and Club World Cup  to 48 and 24 teams respectively ever since he came into the power, following the sacking former FIFA chief. He expressed his wich of any expanded FIFA competitions to make football more popular among the masses.

FIFA’s choice underlines China’s growing clout in football and could be a precursor to the country eventually hosting the World Cup proper.

Infantino made the announcement after a meeting in Shanghai of the FIFA Council, the decision-making unit of football’s world governing body.

It will mean many of the biggest club teams -- including eight from Europe -- descending on China in June-July 2021.

Infantino confirmed that China, which has made football a national priority under President Xi Jinping, had been the only candidate.

“It is a historic decision for football,” he said.

“It will be a competition which every person, every child and everyone who loves football is looking forward to.” The FIFA chief said in June that his new Club World Cup could generate as much as $50 billion in commercial income, although he did not state how many editions that would cover and a source told AFP the figure was “scarcely credible”.

The current Club World Cup features seven teams including the holders of the UEFA Champions League. Qatar will host the competition this year and in 2020.

The Gulf state will use the two tournaments as logistical tests for stadiums and infrastructure ahead of the 2022 edition of the World Cup, FIFA’s flagship international competition.

The plan for a revamped Club World Cup -- “a childhood dream”, said Infantino -- was approved at a FIFA Council meeting in Miami in March despite opposition from UEFA and the powerful European Club Association.

It will take place every four years and replaces the Confederations Cup, an international competition that acted as a test event for countries hosting a World Cup.

FIFA also will double the funding allocated for women’s football to $1 billion over the next four years after the Council rubber-stamped plans already announced by Infantino.


Related articles