COVID likely to prevail over FIFA spectacle



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FIFA plans to postpones Club World Cup Image: FIFA

FIFA plans to postpone the Club World Cup until early next year due to hosting challenges linked to COVID-19, which still has several parts of the world in its throes, people familiar with the planning said.

The ‘Japan Today’ stated that coronavirus restrictions led to Japan withdrawing from staging the seven-team tournament this December, and South Africa then abandoned a bid due to the need to get more of the country vaccinated.

The FIFA Club World Cup™ is an international men’s association football competition organized by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the sport’s global governing body. The competition was first contested in the year 2000 as the FIFA Club World Championship.

The 2021 FIFA Club World Cup™ was scheduled to be the 18th edition of the FIFA Club World Cup™, a FIFA-organized international club football tournament between the winners of the six continental confederations, as well as the host nation’s league champions. The tournament was supposed to be held in December 2021.

The Club World Cup will feature European champion Chelsea F.C. (UK) and the other five continental club competition winners. The league champion from the host country also gets a place.

Zurich (Switzerland)-headquartered FIFA is a non-profit organization that describes itself as an international governing body of association football, futsal and beach soccer. It is the highest governing body of association football.

The ‘Japan Today’ further stated that FIFA is now exploring staging the event in January or February next year. Sources informed requesting anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss ongoing talks.

Qatar is an option – like in February when the Bundesliga club FC Bayern Munich (Germany) won the delayed 2020 edition in Doha (Qatar) – to help the Gulf nation test venues for the men’s national teams’ World Cup that starts in November 2022.

FIFA is already due to stage the Arab Cup competition in December in Qatar as part of World Cup preparations. The Club World Cup could attract a more global fanbase, with Chelsea qualified as Champions League winners. It will disrupt a Premier League weekend for the West London club, as would have been the case if the tournament was contested as planned in December.

An extended 24-team Club World Cup was due to debut this year in China but it was shelved because the pandemic required the rescheduling of national team competitions in June and FIFA was unable to raise the necessary funding for the planned quadrennial event. So, the seven-team format was extended for another year, with the six continental club champions joining the domestic league winner from the host nation.

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