Lisbon (AFP) – FIFA has laid out plans to replace the Confederations Cup with an expanded Club World Cup that would only be held every four years from 2021, a source told AFP on Wednesday.
According to a letter Gianni Infantino, the president of world football’s governing body, sent to the heads of the continental confederations, and that has been seen by AFP, the Confederations Cup would cease while the club tournament would no longer be played annually in December.
It would now be held every fourth June in the year before a World Cup — just as the Confederations Cup was.
Last year’s Confederations Cup in Russia — won by Germany — would therefore be the last.
The competition would last 18 days. The new format means the club competition would interfere less with the rest of the football calendar, particularly in Europe.
FIFA also faces the problem that while its principal tournament, the World Cup, is immensely lucrative and popular, neither the Confederations Cup nor the Club World Cup have been remotely as attractive to fans or sponsors.
Clubs from the six confederations take part in the Club World Cup, but the gulf in quality can be embarrassingly large and only sides from Europe or South America have ever won it.
Although Brazilian sides claimed the first three editions, only one of the last 11 has not been won by a European team — inaugural winners in 2000, Corinthians triumphed for the second time in 2012.
In the United Arab Emirates in December, Real Madrid became the first club to retain the trophy when they beat Brazilians Gremio 1-0 with a goal by Cristiano Ronaldo.
The changes dovetail with FIFA’s desire to build on plans already unveiled by UEFA, the European federation, and CONCACAF, which runs football in North and Central America and the Caribbean, for a Nations League to replace friendlies in the international calendar.
The inaugural UEFA Nations League will begin in September of this year, with the top four teams going through to the finals in June 2019.
The international governing body wants all the continents to set up similar competitions, using divisional formats, to be played in September, October and December of even-numbered years and culminating in an eight-team international tournament the following year.
In order to finance its Nations League and the revamped Club World Cup, FIFA would look to team up with a consortium of private investors ready to invest some 25 billion dollars in the rights for the period from 2021 to 2033.