Fifa Council to debate expanded Club World Cup - but Nations League off the table
Members of the Fifa Council, the ruling body of soccer’s international federation, are to be asked at a meeting tomorrow to approve a pilot tournament for an expanded 24-team Club World Cup in June and July 2021 featuring eight European teams.
However, Fifa’s controversial plans for a worldwide Nations League are on hold, according to a 17-page Fifa report seen by AP.
The existing seven-team annual Club World Cup, normally played in December, is to be overhauled in a bid to generate new interest and greater revenue, according to the report.
The Fifa Council is conducting further discussions on the proposals at its meeting in Miami in USA this week.
Fifa’s initial proposals for a revamped Club World Cup, involving up to 24 teams, and a global Nations League for national teams, had run into opposition from European stakeholders, which branded them “unacceptable as they stand.”
Gianni Infantino, Fifa’s president (pictured), wanted the competitions to begin in 2021, but the European bodies have concerns over a perceived lack of consultation, the impact on the international calendar and the source of a reported $25 billion of outside investment from investors led by Japan’s SoftBank. They have said that they will only consider the plans as part of the post-2024 landscape.
The new Fifa report on the future of competitions avoids specific mention of funding and says only that it wants to “ensure that the generated revenues stay within football and do not go to third parties.”
Fifa has not previously sold off control of its competitions to third parties, but is eager to create a major revenue stream aside from the quadrennial World Cup, given that the existing seven-team Club World Cup and Confederations Cup are not regarded as money-spinning events.
The expanded Club World Cup would be played between 17 June and 4 July 4, 2021, in the slot previously reserved for the Confederations Cup, the test event that has taken place in the host nation a year before the World Cup.
Under the plans, in addition to the eight European teams, South America would have six slots, with three each from Africa, Asia and the CONCACAF region of North and Central America. Oceania would have one representative, and the confederations would decide their own qualification process.
The report says: “The principal objection of Uefa [European soccer’s governing body] was related to their concerns on the calendar. Uefa’s position was that any technical discussion on a new format and calendar for the Fifa Club World Cup could only take place once a new post-2024 coordinated international calendar had been agreed.”
The report also notes Uefa’s concerns over a crowded calendar, which would afford little rest for top players, saying: “All of these points were taken on board by Fifa and were considered by the other members of the task force, who felt that it was feasible to play the Fifa Club World Cup in June/July 2021.”
The report adds that the proposed new tournament would “promote and grow football for the benefit of all confederations, member associations, leagues, clubs and fans.”
Reinhard Grindel, president of the DFB, the German football association, yesterday backed plans for an expanded Club World Cup, saying that payments from it would benefit smaller leagues and teams.
Grindel, who is both a member of the Uefa executive committee and the Fifa Council, said in a Deuetsche Welle TV interview. “If we don’t hold a competition like [the Club World Cup], then commercial enterprises will.
“An advantage of a Club World Cup is that the income would remain entirely in football. In those tournaments [run by commercial organisations] there are no solidarity payments.”
Grindel added that smaller clubs “would not be particularly disadvantaged by the new competition.”