By Our Sports Desk
FIFA’s revamped Club World Cup to be held for first time in 2025 with 32 teams; Chelsea and Man City lead European qualifiers as Liverpool and Man Utd miss out; World Leagues Forum – run by Premier League chief executive Richard Masters – has complained to FIFA.
Liverpool and Manchester United have been locked out of playing in FIFA’s new Club World Cup which will be held for the first time in the summer of 2025.
The FIFA Council meeting in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah on Sunday agreed the qualifying criteria, confirming that a maximum of two clubs can qualify from one country for the new 32-team tournament.
England’s two places will go to recent Champions League winners Chelsea and Manchester City.
Until Sunday’s confirmation of qualifying criteria, Liverpool had a chance of qualifying based on their Champions League performances over the past three seasons.
Arsenal can qualify but only if they win the Champions League this season.
The two club country cap is lifted if there are more than two Champions League winners from one country over the four-year qualifying cycle.
Europe will have 12 clubs in the 32-team tournament and the spaces are allocated based on performances in the Champions League over four seasons from 2020-21 up to and including this season.
Champions League winners during the four-year qualifying cycle qualify automatically which means Chelsea, Real Madrid, Man City have already booked their spaces for the tournament which will be played in the USA between June 15 and July 13, 2025.
Depending on prize money and the size of broadcast and marketing deals, participating clubs are expected to make about £50m from the tournament, which will be held every four years.
The 12 European spaces are allocated according to the UEFA Champions League coefficient. Portuguese sides Porto and Benfica have qualified along with Chelsea, Manchester City and Real Madrid due to their co-efficient rankings. Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and Inter Milan are also through.
Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, German teams Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig, and Serie A sides Juventus, Napoli and Lazio are vying with Red Bull Salzburg for three or four of the remaining slots.
Real Sociedad, PSV Eindhoven and FC Copenhagen are in the same situation as Arsenal and would need to win the Champions League this season in order to qualify. From South America, Brazilian sides Palmeiras, Flamengo and Fluminense have qualified as champions, while Asian sides Al Hilal and Urawa Red Diamonds are also through.
Al Ahly and Wydad have similarly qualified from Africa, while Monterrey, Seattle Sounders and Club Leon are through from North America.
Oceania’s Auckland City have sealed progress with no other team in position to overtake their points tally.
FIFA will confirm venues for the tournament in 2024, but they are all likely to be on the East Coast of the US as the Gold Cup is being held at the same time on the West Coast.
The tournament will be a classic World Cup format of 32 teams split into eight groups of four. The top two progress to the knockout stage, with the finalists playing a total of seven matches.
Teams will have three rest days between games and there will be no third-place play off.
Masters’ World Leagues Forum complains to FIFA The World Leagues Forum – run by Premier League chief executive Richard Masters – has complained to FIFA about not being consulted over its expanded Club World Cup.
In a forthright letter sent to FIFA president Gianni Infantino on Sunday, the group’s 44 members, which includes the Premier League, accused the governing body of consistently prioritising its own interests.
The belief was also conveyed that FIFA refuses to consider the interests of the national competitions, as it continues to overload the footballing calendar, and serious concerns over the impact on player welfare were reiterated.
Masters acts as chair of the Forum, and the group’s sentiments echo those of the PFA and FIFPro, who criticised FIFA’s announcement this week of a new 32-club tournament in the summer of 2025.
FIFPro has been working closely with the World Leagues Forum on the match-calendar issue, and concerns were discussed at the Forum’s AGM earlier this year.
There, the board emphasised that “the constant growth in the volume of international club and national team matches is unsustainable for player welfare and for the scheduling of domestic football”.
They also pledged to develop a response that is in the best interests of the future of the game, and they are likely to intensify their resistance to FIFA’s plans if their concerns continue to go unheard.
The European Club Association, which represents the interests of a group of elite clubs including 2025 Club World Cup competitors Manchester City and Chelsea, “warmly welcomed” the announcement, stating it was “fantastic news” for club football in general.
City boss Pep Guardiola also confirmed this week “the clubs supported it”, but he also warned the “lack of recovery from year-to-year… is tough for the players” and “things should change”.
Manchester City and Chelsea will play up to seven extra games within four weeks in the USA, at the height of summer, with the final being staged just three weeks before the start of the 2025-26 Premier League season.
The World Leagues Forum represents the interests of 44 leagues across the entire globe, including LaLiga, the Bundesliga, and Serie A, and also the professional league in Saudi Arabia, where FIFA this week announced its plans for the tournament’s expansion ahead of this month’s Club World Cup.