January 30, 2023

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Infantino announces plans for 32-team Club World Cup

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FIFA president Gianni Infantino confirmed the governing body is proceeding with plans for a 32-team Club World Cup, while the format of the next World Cup is to be revisited.

Infantino was addressing the media in Doha on Friday for the first time since his extraordinary press conference at the start of Qatar 2022.

He opted against a 45-minute opening monologue on this occasion, instead taking the opportunity to provide an update following a FIFA Council meeting earlier in the day.

During that meeting, plans were approved to push on with a previously proposed expansion to the Club World Cup.

The competition currently pits the winners of the main continental club competitions against each other every year, but the new version will feature 32 teams from across the globe and take place once every four years.

“It will be a Club World Cup of 32 teams, every four years, and the first edition will be summer of 2025,” he said. “They will be the best teams in the world invited to participate.”

Infantino also revealed FIFA is re-thinking its format for the next World Cup, which will be the first with 48 competing teams.

Initially FIFA planned for the tournament to consist of 16 groups of three teams; however, enlightened by the drama at the end of the first stage of Qatar 2022, Infantino suggested groups of four are likely to remain.

“I have to say, after this World Cup and the success of groups of four and looking at other competitions such as the Euros, here [four-team groups] have been incredible,” he added

“I think we have to revisit or at least re-discuss the format. This is something that will certainly be on the agenda.”

Speaking two days before Qatar 2022’s final, Infantino summarised the tournament as a success in every way, in his opinion, praising the behaviour of supporters.

“The World Cup has been an incredible success on all fronts,” said Infantino.

“The main one being the fans, the behaviour, the joyful atmosphere, the bringing of people together. The fans meeting the Arab world, it has been very important for the future of all of us.

“When it comes to the matches, we have seen some incredibly competitive games, some surprises, some great goals.

“At the end of the day, there was on average 10 minutes played as additional time every match. This was a very fair World Cup on the pitch, no simulations, not so many yellow and red cards.

“But this shows the compliment goes to the players and coaches, who maintained their calm, and of course the referees.”

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