FIFA have announced plans for a new Club World Cup to kick off in 2025, featuring 32 teams from around the world.
An expansion of the current Club World Cup has long been on the agenda for FIFA.
As it stands, the seven teams winning their confederation’s top trophy face off, with Europe sending their Champions League winner.
Plans had been in place for a 24-team Club World Cup in 2021, but these are postponed due to Covid.
Now, FIFA president Gianni Infantino has announced their new intentions to hold a Club World Cup in 2025, featuring 32 teams.
“Of course, the details of that still need to be discussed and agreed,” Infantino said. “But the 32-team tournament will go ahead, making it really like a World Cup.”
That last statement is rather amusing, considering the actual World Cup won’t be a 32-team tournament from now on. FIFA are messing with the format in favour of a significantly worse 48-team setup from 2026.
Whilst 32 teams allows for the kind of drama we saw throughout this year’s World Cup group stages, 48 teams inevitably spoils that.
One 48-team option gives you 16 three-team groups, where many groups will involve two teams going into their final group game knowing the result they both need to qualify and potentially colluding to make that result happen.
Another option maintains the four-team group structure (12 groups), but with multiple best third-placed finishers progressing.
Again, this is a vastly inferior option to the current format, given that third-placed teams in the early groups have no idea if their points total will be enough. They find out if they’ve progressed while watching on TV with the rest of us, not out on the pitch.
As for the Club World Cup, 32 teams means a minimum of five games for any team hoping to win the competition. If there’s a group stage, you could end up with seven matches for finalists and a three-match minimum for all participants.
That’s in a stacked footballing calendar, where a lot of the teams that qualify will be the teams who have already played a large number of matches to win or progress significantly in their continental tournament to begin with.
Of course, we know why FIFA want to vastly expand the Club World Cup, and to expand the World Cup even if it leads to an inferior final product.
They want money. This gives them more money. That’s all it’s about.