Football News

FIFA confirm USA to host new-look expanded 32-team Club World Cup

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 14:30, 18 December 2023

The United States will host a newly revamped 32-team FIFA Club World Cup starting in 2025.

Fifa’s president Gianni Infantino had previously confirmed this expansion and new format before the 2022 World Cup final. Among those participating will be 12 European clubs, including the Champions League winners from 2021-24, meaning Chelsea, Real Madrid and Manchester City have already qualified.

The remaining clubs will be determined by a ranking based on the same four-year period. Elsewhere the other 20 slots will consist of six CONMEBOL clubs, including the Copa Libertadores winners between 2021 and 2024; four CONCACAF teams, in principle the 2021-24 Champions League winners; four clubs each from CAF and AFC, also based on the respective Champions League winners; one from OFC – the highest-ranked club from its 2021-24 Champions League winners; and one from the host country.

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“The Fifa Club World Cup 2025 will be the pinnacle of elite professional men’s club football. With the required infrastructure in place together with a massive local interest, the United States is the ideal host to kick off this new, global tournament,” Infantino said during the FIFA Council meeting. The 21st edition of the FIFA Club World Cup is scheduled to be played between June 15 and July 13, 2025.

It will be a busy few years for the United States as they’re set to host a 16-time Copa America in 2024 and 48-team World Cup (along with Canada and Mexico) in 2026.

FIFA will confirm venues for the 2024 tournament with those stadiums likely to be on the East Coast of the US as the Gold Cup will be simultaneously taking place on the West Coast. It will be a classic World Cup format of 32 teams split into eight groups of four.

The group winner and runner-up progress to the knockout stage, with the finalists playing a combined seven matches. Teams will have three rest days between matches and there will be no third-place play-off.

FIFPRO, a global union of professional players, have criticised FIFA’s proposal citing player welfare due to the added fixtures in an already congested playing calendar. However, to quell any lingering fears, the plan is for the competition to be played every four years instead of it being a yearly event.

Who has qualified for the 2025 FIFA Club World Cup?

So far 12 clubs have booked their spot with a yet-to-be-announced host team. There’s also the proviso that if a club wins two or more seasons of their confederation’s top club competition, additional teams will be determined by a club ranking over the four-year period. On top of that, a restriction of two clubs per association will be applied, with an exception for champion clubs if more than two clubs from the same association win their confederation’s top club competition.

That means Liverpool and Manchester United have been denied a place in the expanded tournament which comes with a potential windfall of around £50m as FIFA confirmed that Manchester City and Chelsea will be the only Premier League sides certain of taking part. However, should Arsenal win this season’s Champions League, an exception would be made and they would be England’s third representative in a 12-strong European representation.

Portuguese giants Porto and Benfica have qualified along with Chelsea, Man City and Real Madrid due to their co-efficient rankings. Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and Inter Milan have also booked their spots. Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig, Juventus, Napoli, Lazio and Red Bull Salzburg are vying for three or four of the remaining places.

Real Sociedad, PSV Eindhoven and FC Copenhagen are in the same boat as Arsenal and would need to win the Champions League this season to qualify.

AFC (four slots)

  • Al-Hilal – Winners of the 2021 AFC Champions League
  • Urawa Red Diamonds – Winners of the 2022 AFC Champions League
  • TBD – Winners of the 2023/24 AFC Champions League
  • TBD – Best eligible team in AFC 4-year ranking

CAF (four slots)

  • Al Ahly – Winners of the 2020/21 and 2022/23 CAF Champions League
  • Wydad Casablanca – Winners of the 2021/22 CAF Champions League
  • TBD – Winners of the 2023/24 CAF Champions League
  • TBD – Best eligible team in CAF 4-year ranking

CONCACAF (four slots)

  • Monterrey – Winners of the 2021 CONCACAF Champions League
  • Seattle Sounders – Winners of the 2022 CONCACAF Champions League
  • León – Winners of the 2023 CONCACAF Champions League
  • TBD – Winners of the 2024 CONCACAF Champions Cup

CONMEBOL (six slots)

  • Palmeiras – Winners of the 2021 Copa Libertadores
  • Flamengo – Winners of the 2022 Copa Libertadores
  • Fluminense – Winners of the 2023 Copa Libertadores
  • TBD – Winners of the 2024 Copa Libertadores
  • TBD – Best eligible team in CONMEBOL 4-year ranking
  • TBD – Second-best eligible team in CONMEBOL 4-year ranking

OFC (one slot)

  • Auckland City – Best OFC Champions League winner in OFC 4-year ranking

UEFA (12 slots)

  • Chelsea – Winners of the 2020/21 UEFA Champions League
  • Real Madrid – Winners of the 2021/22 UEFA Champions League
  • Manchester City – Winners of the 2022/23 UEFA Champions League
  • TBD – Winners of the 2023–24 UEFA Champions League
  • Bayern Munich – Best eligible team in UEFA 4-year ranking
  • Paris Saint-Germain – Second-best eligible team in UEFA 4-year ranking
  • Inter Milan – Third-best eligible team in UEFA 4-year ranking
  • Porto – Fourth-best eligible team in UEFA 4-year ranking
  • Benfica – Fifth-best eligible team in UEFA 4-year ranking
  • TBD – Sixth-best eligible team in UEFA 4-year ranking
  • TBD – Seventh-best eligible team in UEFA 4-year ranking
  • TBD – Eighth-best eligible team in UEFA 4-year ranking

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The final tournament played under Fifa’s current format is currently taking place in Saudi Arabia this December with Man City seeking to become England’s fourth different winner after Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool.

Pep Guardiola’s men will face Urawa Red Diamonds in the semi-finals while 2023 Copa Libertadores winners Fluminense take on Al Ahly in the other game.

Real Madrid is the competition’s most successful club with five titles. Guardiola himself is a three-time winner having won twice as Barcelona manager (2009 and 2011) and once more in charge of Bayern Munich (2013).