The plan for the modified Club World Cup by FIFA for 2025 has been announced, featuring 32 teams playing from June 15 to July 13. Additionally, the head of the organization that oversees world football, Giovanni Infantino, announced on Sunday that a new International Cup will be staged annually beginning in 2019.
The announcement drew criticism from the global players’ union FIFPro and the World Leagues Forum (WLF), representing 44 major professional leagues, led by Premier League chief Richard Masters.
FIFA had earlier in the year proposed an expanded Club World Cup and had unanimously voted to appoint the United States as the host for the first edition of this event.
The FIFA Council held a meeting in Jeddah to approve the dates for the Club World Cup, confirming that the winner of the next year’s UEFA Champions League will face a team that qualified through the Intercontinental Playoffs.
Infantino stated, “All current Confederation Premier Club Competition Champions will participate in the tournament.”
“It concludes with the final at a neutral venue between the winners of the intercontinental play-offs and the UEFA Champions League winners and other clubs,” he added.
The Intercontinental Playoff is scheduled for December 14, 2024, with the final taking place on December 18.
Eight groups of four teams each will compete in the 2025 Club World Cup, which will be held every four years and follow a structure identical to the World Cup with the top two teams from each group moving on to the knockout stage.
The FIFA Club World Cup, an annual Saudi Arabian-hosted competition involving seven teams, will end in its current format following the competition.
The existing structure sees European and South American champions entering the tournament at the semifinal stage, while champions from other regions start in the first round.
World Leagues Unhappy
However, the scheduling of the Club World Cup dates leaves European teams qualifying for the tournament with very little time to rest between the 2024-25 and 2025-26 seasons.
The traditional end of the European season is in May, with the Champions League final taking place in the first week of June, and the new season starting in August.
WLF President Masters expressed dissatisfaction with FIFA’s decision-making process, stating in a letter seen by Reuters that the expansion of FIFA competitions in recent years has been detrimental to the interests of other football stakeholders, neglecting the priorities of the global body.
Masters also mentioned that the June-July program would impact player availability for national leagues at the beginning of the season and raised concerns about players’ responsibilities and health risks.
FIFPro argued that the decision to add a major Club World Cup at the end of the 2024-25 season reflects a lack of consideration for the physical and mental well-being of players, disregarding their personal and family lives.
In a statement, FIFPro said, “Extending the competition into the end of the 2024-25 season reduces players’ rest and recovery time and disrupts the balance between national and international competitions, affecting national job markets.”
“Performing at the pinnacle of the game imposes significant mental and physical pressure on players involved in club and national team competitions, leading to fatigue, injuries, mental health issues, suboptimal performance, and risks for long-term careers,” it added.