MIAMI, United States, Mar 15 – Top European clubs said Friday they will boycott a planned 24-team Club World Cup in 2021, dealing a blow to FIFA chief Gianni Infantino’s overhaul of the competition.
In a statement released shortly before FIFA’s ruling council were expected to greenlight the new tournament at a meeting in Miami, the European Club Association said its members would not participate.
“ECA clubs will not participate in the Club World Cup in 2021 and will assess participation in the Club World Cup in 2024,” an ECA spokesman told AFP.
A 17-page report distributed to the 37 members of FIFA’s ruling body calls for the new tournament to take place between June 17 and July 4, 2021, replacing the Confederations Cup international tournament.
But the ECA have argued against the plans despite FIFA President Infantino pushing strongly for the new-look competition.
Any boycott by European clubs would instantly diminish the viability of the competition.
A report distributed to FIFA Council members this week said five of the six regional confederations are in favour of the proposal for the tournament.
However European governing body UEFA, which accuses FIFA of a lack of consultation and transparency over the project, has opposed plans moving forward, citing scheduling problems.
UEFA had earlier lobbied for 12 clubs to take part in any new tournament. However under the proposal tabled at Friday’s meeting in Miami, Europe would have only eight slots.
South America will have six qualified clubs, while Africa, Asia, North and Central America will each have three teams. One team will represent the Oceania region.
The issue of a revamped Club World Cup has been simmering for the past year after it emerged that a tournament bankrolled by investors from Asia and the Middle East had been offered to FIFA. That funding offer, reportedly worth $25 billion, was later withdrawn.
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