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Monday, February 26, 2024

Details of New-look Club World Cup Emerge and Not Everyone Likes It

  • Expanded tournament from the global governing body generates widespread rebuke.
  • Complaints are centered primarily on player welfare, scheduling, team selection criteria.

FIFA has unveiled the schedule and club selection process for its newly expanded 2025 Club World Cup on Sunday, and almost immediately, the tournament has created a new round of controversy for the global soccer governing body.

The organization carries high hopes for its newly expanded tournament that will feature 32 top professional clubs in an event, up from seven, to be held in the U.S. and shown domestically on Fox Sports, forming a key part of FIFA’s ongoing efforts to capitalize on the growing American soccer market.

But within hours of FIFA confirming the tournament dates of June 15-July 13, 2025, and a tournament format requiring finalists to play seven games, the effort was blasted around the world. Global players’ union FIFPRO argued the initiative does not allow for sufficient player rest between professional seasons, and will disrupt the offseason transfer market. Other organizations such as the World Leagues Forum similarly are accusing FIFA of “overloading” the global soccer calendar. 

“Decisions to scale competitions have been introduced without implementing appropriate safeguards, and without any say from the players who are at the forefront of driving the game’s popularity and revenue generation,” the union said. 

Hard Cuts 

European clubs are being chosen primarily based on points earned during UEFA Champions League competitions over the last four seasons, but automatic qualifiers are being granted to Champions League winners, creating some contradictions among the qualifying teams. 

Chelsea has qualified for the Club World Cup after winning the 2021 Champions League. But Liverpool will be left out despite having more Champions League points overall than Chelsea, and will miss out on an estimated $63 million in media revenue from the event.

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