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Fifa poised to reschedule revamped Club World Cup

FIFA President Gianni Infantino speaks at the 44th UEFA Congress (by Lukas Schulze - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

Fifa president Gianni Infantino has proposed moving the new Club World Cup, which was scheduled to be hosted in China next year, as world football’s governing body seeks to address the competition backlog created by Covid-19.

Infantino said the matter will be discussed by the Fifa Council later today (Wednesday), with the changes set to be triggered by the realigning of Uefa Euro 2020 and this year’s Copa América. Uefa yesterday (Tuesday) decided to postpone its European Championship by 12 months in a bid to help domestic competitions across Europe be completed.

The move, which was anticipated, came as a response to the Covid-19 outbreak and was echoed by the rescheduling of South America’s Copa América national team tournament until 2021.

Infantino said Fifa is prepared to accept the requests from Uefa and the South American Football Confederation (Conmebol) to postpone their two tournaments to June/July 2021, a slot currently reserved for the new Club World Cup.

Discussing next steps, Infantino said Fifa would likely decide at a later stage, when there is more clarity on the situation, on the rescheduling of the new Club World Cup, either later in 2021, in 2022 or in 2023. He added that talks would be held with the Chinese Football Association (CFA) and the Chinese government to “minimise any negative impact” such a postponement would create.

Infantino said the impact of these changes on the calendar would be discussed with confederations, member associations and other stakeholders, with the objective of finding “appropriate calendar solutions”, hopefully before the end of April.

In February, it was reported that Fifa had hired American financial advisory firm The Raine Group to help secure the $1bn (€910.4m) funding required to launch an expanded 24-team Club World Cup in 2021. In December, Fifa launched a process “to invite various commercial and investment proposals” for the tournament and later that month Infantino said nine offers had been received.

In October, Fifa confirmed that China would become the first host of an expanded Club World Cup in 2021, stating that the revamped format would have a “major impact” financially. Fifa said the tournament would be played between June and July 2021.

In March 2019, Fifa voted to approve plans to launch a 24-team Club World Cup, despite opposition from Europe’s leading clubs. Proposals to change the Club World Cup have proved controversial ever since Infantino revealed that a group of investors were willing to pay $25bn for the rights to the expanded club competition, in addition to the rights to a new global Nations League.

In other news, Infantino said that due to its “solid financial situation”, Fifa is in a position to propose proactive solidarity measures specifically targeting the Covid-19 crisis. This could include a direct $10m contribution from Fifa to the World Health Organization’s Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund.

The Fifa president added that the possibility of establishing a ‘Global Football Assistance Fund’ to help members of the football community affected by the crisis will also be discussed.