Fifa president Gianni Infantino has outlined plans to make major changes to the Club World Cup, including expansion to a 32-team tournament and switching it to a June slot in the football calendar.
Speaking in the Spanish and Italian press today (Friday), Infantino told the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper that he wanted to see 32 teams in the competition, up from the current seven.
The head of world football’s governing body told Spanish daily El Mundo Deportivo that he is keen for the Club World Cup to adopt a similar format to the Uefa Champions League, which has a 32-team group stage. He said the first edition of a revamped tournament could take place in 2019. Hosting rights for the event are currently locked in through to 2018.
“Today football is not just about Europe and South America, the world has changed and that's why we need to make the Club World Cup more interesting for teams, and also for fans around the world,” Infantino said.
“That's what we're trying to do, by creating a tournament that is much more attractive than the current one, with more quality among participants and more clubs. That will attract more sponsors and television companies from around the world.”
The Club World Cup currently features the champions of all continental club competitions in each of Fifa’s six confederations, and the champion of the host nation’s league. The 2016 Club World Cup, will take place in Japan from December 8-18.
In April last year, Japan was awarded hosting rights to the 2015 and 2016 editions of the Club World Cup. Fifa announced last year that the 2017 and 2018 Club World Cups would take place in the United Arab Emirates.
Spanish LaLiga team Barcelona is the defending champion, having defeated Argentinian Primera División club River Plate 3-0 in last year’s final.