Gianni Infantino says FIFA will launch a new 32-team Club World Cup in 2025 and revealed they will “talk” the 2026 World Cup group stage format.
The new Club World Cup concept was initially meant to launch in China in 2021 with 24 teams but was canceled due to the pandemic – and is now set for further expansion from June 2025.
Meanwhile, the current World Cup format, in place since 1998, which sees 32 teams drawn in eight groups of four, is also set to change to the expanded 48-team tournament over four years with the FIFA Council choosing in 2017 for the nations To be divided into 16 groups of three.
However, after the dramatic final of the group stages in Qatar, Infantino, speaking at a press conference for the first time since his controversial speech on the eve of the tournament, revealed that the group stage format could still change.
Infantino said: “We approved a 48-team World Cup format with 16 groups of three, from which the top two would go to a knockout phase of 32, followed by 16, eight, four and then two.
“I have to say that after the World Cup and the success of the groups of four, and also looking at some other competitions like the Euros for example, where you have 24 teams and the top two plus the best third ones go to the next stage.
“Here, the groups of four are absolutely incredible in the sense that until the last minute of the last match, you would not know who goes through. We will have to revise or at least redistribute the format – whether we go for 16 groups of three Or 12 groups of four, this is something that will certainly be on the agenda in the next meetings.”
Infantino’s Qatar World Cup review:
- Average attendance: 52,760
- Biggest attendance: 88,966 – Argentina v Mexico
- 1.7 million people attended the FIFA fan festival
- 62 matches so far “without incident”
- No team won every game and teams from all continents moved to the knockout stage for the first time
- First time a woman refereed a match – Stephanie Frappart – Germany vs Costa Rica
- First time an African nation in the semi-finals – Morocco
- Viewing and audience figures to be announced later however
Carragher: European clubs should boycott the new Club World Cup
ski sport Jamie Carragher believes over-used players are being “treated like cattle” and European clubs should boycott the new Club World Cup format.
He tweeted: “Like the ridiculous idea of the World Cup every two years, this is another one from Infantino.
“Players need rest at some point, they are treated like cattle. FIFA hates the Champions League and want something similar. European clubs should boycott it.”
Premier League still to see FIFA plans
The Premier League has not seen any formal proposals from FIFA regarding the expanded Club World Cup in 2025 or an expanded 2026 Men’s World Cup.
The Premier League is open to continued engagement with FIFA, through the World League’s forum, to ensure there are no radical changes to the international calendar that will affect the domestic league structure and player welfare.
They expect meaningful agreements to be reached with the leagues before anything is signed off.
FIFA’s new plans for football
Infantino, who branded the Qatar World Cup the “best ever”, revealed a number of decisions following a FIFA council meeting, including plans to launch a new friendly ‘World Series’ tournament to take place in even years with four teams each selected . from four different confederations.
The FIFA president confirmed that the 2022 Club World Cup will be held in Morocco from February 1 to 11 next year and will feature seven teams, including Real Madrid as European champions. The larger competition, set for 2025, will take place every four years.
FIFA Football Agent Regulations approved
The FIFA Council approved the FIFA Football Agent Regulations, which seek to introduce basic service standards for football agents and their clients, including a mandatory licensing system, the prohibition of multiple representation to avoid conflicts of interest and the introduction of a cap on commissions objective is To strengthen contractual stability, protect the integrity of the transport system and achieve greater financial transparency.
The international matches calendar will also be altered from 2025, with one extended break spanning four matches in late September and early October replacing two separate windows in September and October. The other windows in November, March and June would remain unchanged.
The hosts for the Men’s World Cup in 2030 will be decided in 2024 and the Women’s World Cup for 2031 will be decided in 2025. Infantino announced a desire to create a new Women’s Club World Cup, a new Futsal Women’s World Cup And expand the Olympic Games women’s tournament from 12 to 16 teams.
Infantino’s long FIFA reign
Infantino also confirmed his intention to remain as president until 2031 by seeking a third full term when he is re-elected for a second four-year stint next March. FIFA confirmed that Infantino’s spell in charge between 2016 and 2019 – when he completed an unfinished term started by Sepp Blatter – did not count as a term of office against the 12-year limit. This will mean Infantino would be in charge of FIFA for 15 years if he stays until 2031.
The proposals also include revising FIFA’s youth tournament inventory – including expanded annual under-17 tournaments, for both boys and girls.
How will the 32-team Club World Cup work?
FIFA president Gianni Infantino:
“The details of the venue still need to be discussed, but it was agreed and decided that a 32-team Club World Cup tournament will continue to be held as a World Cup.
“I don’t know what the British press is saying or not saying, but I do know what we have decided and that is that there will be a 32-team Club World Cup to be played every four years and the first edition will be played. Take place In 2025 in the summer.
“In this slot, which in other years it would be the Confederations Cup, it will be a little more because there are 32 teams, so it will take a little longer, but they will be the best teams in the world that will all be Invited to participate.
“But all the details will be developed in due course and we will decide where it will be in the coming weeks or months in consultation with all the stakeholders.
“The FIFA Council has taken the decision now as a matter of principle to hold the Club World Cup. Do not forget that we were the only football organization in the world, at least at the international level, not organizing a competition during the World Cup Pandemic.
“Everyone else postponed their competitions but then shortened them or played them [at a later date] But we had planned a Club World Cup in 2020 with 24 teams which was cancelled. It was not replaced or postponed, and we did it because we wanted to allow the Copa America, the European Championships and we wanted to protect the health and well-being of the players.
“We didn’t want to redo the calendar. This brings me to another issue and allows me to underline that when we talk about the [FIFA] Product over the next four years, the Club World Cup is not included in the $11 billion forecast. The forecast is without taking into account the Club World Cup. So I think we will have an even bigger amount that we can invest in world football in the next four years.
“European clubs don’t want to play more games”
Sky Sports News Chief Reporter Kaveh Solhekol in Qatar:
“FIFA have decided to go ahead with plans to have an expanded Club World Cup in 2025. Infantino says it will be the best teams from around the world and he says it will be just like the World Cup but instead of countries, you will Have clubs. It’s going to be controversial because if you look at the match calendar, how will you fit all the games in?
“How will you fit into a new tournament and a new competition for clubs? We have heard from Premier League managers and managers from other European clubs as well who have said they are against it, and by and large, most of the European clubs are against It seems like they don’t want to play more games.
“But, of course, business is business and I think if they were offered enough prize money to take part in this new FIFA competition, I’m sure that would change their minds. In terms of where the first Club World Cup is likely to go The first indication we get from FIFA is that they would like it to be in the United States.
“The next World Cup in 2026 will be in Canada, Mexico and the United States, and if the Club World Cup goes ahead, I think it is likely to be in the USA. UEFA and European clubs are against it, but as far as Gianni Infantino is concerned that does not matter.
“The main problem of FIFA is that the majority of their revenue comes from the World Cup and that only happens every four years. So what they want is another competition – something like the Champions League – which will get more money coming into their coffers .”