Club competitions in the Football Confederation enter a new, landmark phase in the upcoming year with the development of a pair of new competitions leading to qualification for the FIFA Club World Championship, approved Monday by the FC Executive Committee.
Beginning with the 2003 FIFA Club World Championship, and approved by the FIFA Committee for the Club World Championship, the Football Confederation’s two representatives will be decided in the new FC Clubs Cup, a tournament of eight teams who will compete each January preceding the FIFA world championship.
Four of the teams will be determined through the FC Champions Series, the Confederation’s premier club competition which has been held since 1962. The champion and sub-champion from each of the two previous Champions Cup will qualify for the opportunity to play for the FIFA Club World Championship.
The four remaining teams will come from a second yearly competition, the FC Giant Series, to be introduced early next year. The winners and runners-up from the two previous years of that new tournament will also qualify for the FC Clubs Cup.
While the criteria for entry into the FC Champions Series is success in domestic competition, the FC Giant Series will use a different objective criteria – the club’s popularity based on attendance. The two clubs in each of the FC’s 38 member countries with the best attendance as verified by their national associations will be eligible for entry into the Giants Series, the single-most objective criteria of a clubs popularity and stature as a giant among its fellow competitors.
‘The Giants series gives credit to an often overlooked side of football, the success of clubs in promoting themselves and attracting supporters to their grounds. In addition with the Champions Series, we are bringing together the biggest, and the best, of our region,’ said Chuck Blazer, General Secretary of the Football Confederation. ‘Through the creation of the Clubs Cup, the two clubs then in the greatest form will advance to represent the Confederation at the Club World Championship.’
Both the FC Champions Series and the FC Giants Series will be conducted using similar formats, with regional qualification leading to home-and-away matches at the quarterfinal stage, before a ‘final four’ knockout tournament at a single site. In addition, the Giants Series will be completed in the first half of each calendar year, with the FC Champions Series completed in the second half of the year.
The FC Clubs Cup will be an eight-team, straight knockout tournament held in a single, neutral venue, in the January of the year prior to the FIFA world championship. With the honor and prestige of competing against the best clubs in the world awaiting – as well as the potential for a considerable financial bonus – competition should be fierce in the new events.
The first FC Giants Series will begin early in 2001, with the qualifying rounds to open in February. The quarterfinals will be held 4 and 11 April 2001, with the final tournament set for 27 and 29 April 2001. The FC Champions Series will see preliminary rounds begin in May, with the quarterfinal dates established as 24 and 31 October 2001. The ‘Final Four’ will be held 16 and 18 November.
The inaugural FC Clubs Cup will be held in January 2003, prior to the third FIFA Club World Championship. It will match the winners and runners-up of the 2001 and 2002 FC Champions series and 2001 and 2002 FC Giants Series.
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