FIFA exec says 24-team Club World Cup from 2021 discussed

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FIFA is exploring expanding the Club World Cup to 24 teams from June 2021, a member of the ruling council said on Monday.

The revamped tournament could open with three groups of eight teams and be played over 18 days. The proposals to enlarge the existing annual Club World Cup were outlined during a meeting in India last week but disclosed only on Monday by FIFA Council member Reinhard Grindel.

FIFA did not respond to requests for comment. FIFA President Gianni Infantino, who has previously floated plans for a 32-team Club World Cup, said last week that a review of international club, youth, and women’s competitions would report to the next council meeting, in March.

But Grindel, who is also president of the German soccer federation, is already resisting plans to expand the Club World Cup.

“The players need rest and time for recuperation in June,” Grindel wrote on his Facebook page. “FIFA should focus on the competitions for national teams.”

The Club World Cup is a little-watched seven-team event staged annually in December featuring the champions of FIFA’s six continental confederations, plus the host nation’s league winner. The European and South American champions, who typically meet in the final, have only two games because they enter in the semifinals.

European fans have shown little interest in a competition that also clashes with their domestic leagues.

Grindel said enlarging the Club World Cup “implies” the Confederations Cup would be scrapped. That eight-team tournament is staged a year before the World Cup, with Grindel’s Germany winning this year’s edition in July in Russia.

Qatar would be unable to host a Confederations Cup in 2021 because of the summer heat in the Gulf nation that has already seen the World Cup pushed back to November and December in 2021.

One possible host of a Club World Cup in 2021 is China. Chinese retailer Alibaba E-Auto signed as the Club World Cup title sponsor through 2022.

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