When Liverpool won the Champions League on Saturday night, the assumption had been that they wouldn’t be playing in the Club World Cup in December. Mostly on due to a belief that there wasn’t going to be one.
FIFA has been trying to move towards an expanded Club World Cup that would be every four years, with the proposed first taking place in 2021. Meanwhile, there were no firm plans for any tournament to take place this year.
Over the past 24 hours, though, FIFA have made clear they intend to go ahead with the Club World Cup in its existing format—both this season and next—with Qatar expected to be announced as the host for both.
When it began to look as though a Club World Cup would in fact take place this year, there was also some talk of Japan as a possibility—a less politically controversial pick but also one that would have involved a much longer journey.
For all that the choice of Qatar will be controversial given the big process and everything that has happened since surrounding the 2022 World Cup, from a team travel standpoint at least it’s relatively close.
As in past years, the tournament will involve seven teams and four rounds, starting with a qualifier between the champion from the host confederation and Oceania. Then the Asian, African, and North American champions join.
The European and South American participants join in the semi-final round and so can only play in two games. Oceania’s Hienghène Sport, CONCACAF’s Monterrey, and the CAF’s Espérance de Tunis are also already qualified.
The tournament will take place in December. The revised 2021 edition is intended as a 24-club summer tournament replacing the Confederations Cup national team competition. The four previous regional champions would be invited.
The European Club Association, of which Liverpool is a member, has raised concerns about the added workload for players from such a tournament and has proposed a boycott.