Tournament in Morocco: Club World Cup starts – and will soon become FIFA’s new moneymaker

Status: 01/31/2023 11:44 p.m

Seven teams compete at the Club World Cup in Morocco. The tournament will not last much longer in this form – soon it will take place with 32 teams and bring in a lot of money.

The first game is the least important at this World Cup. Al Ahly from Egypt meets Auckland City from New Zealand on Wednesday (01.02.2023/20:00 CET) in Tangier, Morocco. The two teams will play a participant in the second round, from which two clubs will emerge, to play in the semifinals against already qualified teams Real Madrid of Spain and Flamengo of Brazil. The final in Rabat will take place on February 11th.

There are seven teams in total:

  • Europa: Real Madrid (Spanien/UEFA Champions League 2022)
  • North/Central America/Caribbean: Seattle Sounders (USA/CONCACAF Champions League 2022)
  • Africa: Wydad Casablanca (Morocco/CAF Champions League 2022)
  • South America: CR Flamengo (Brasilien/Copa Libertadores 2022)
  • Oceania: Auckland City (Neuseeland/OFC Champions League 2022)
  • Asia: Al Hilal (Saudi Arabian/AFC Champions League 2021)
  • Team host country: Wydad Casablanca (Morocco/National Champion 2022)

It’s a strange tournament with a strange format – which will soon be history.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino with the 2019 Club World Cup trophy

Club World Cup from 2025 every four years with 32 teams

At the end of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, FIFA President Gianni Infantino announced that from 2025 the Club World Cup would take place every four years with 32 teams. For Infantino it was one of his sporting political successes that has recently become rather rare. He failed with the two-year rhythm of the world championships for national teams for men and women – he got the club world championship for men and women.

The new men’s Club World Cup plays a decisive role in the sport-political and financial considerations. FIFA only makes big profits in the years when the men’s World Cup is held. A men’s World Cup with 32 teams is economically the long-awaited opportunity to earn more money and to secure power with the money distribution.

FIFA on confrontation with clubs, leagues, players’ union and UEFA

However, what FIFA likes is not always in the interests of all interest groups. The calendar is full, opportunities to play remain contested. In England, the cup competitions are already being evaporated due to a lack of dates. Many view the new competition with suspicion.

  • Club: Some representatives of the ECA threatened to boycott the tournament. The background is likely to be the negotiations for a new cooperation agreement. The ECA wants more money for their clubs to release national players. The amount had already been significantly increased for the World Cup. In principle, the clubs in particular are not generally opposed to the new tournament: there is a lot of money to be made.
  • The league: For the Bundesliga and other domestic leagues, the Club World Cup is another market player in the fight for TV money, which comes from the same broadcasters and services for all associations. In the battle for distribution of this money, in addition to the Champions League, which will be expanded from 2024, there is now also an enlarged Club World Cup.
  • Player Unions: the international players’ union FIFPRO signed an agreement with FIFA during the World Cup in Qatar, which also included involvement in decision-making processes. Five days later, FIFA unilaterally fixed key parts of the future calendar – FIFPRO and the leagues responded with derogatory press releases.
  • UEFA: FIFA has been in a power struggle with UEFA for a long time. According to Sportschau, the fact that UEFA accepted the Club World Cup as strong competition for the Champions League was also due to a deal: the reform of the international game windows in autumn, in which three were made into two windows, was in the interest of UEFA. They needed space on the calendar for their reformed Champions League, which now has more matchdays.

Tournament Investor should get a lot of power on last try

In 2021, Infantino already had the commitment for a Club World Cup with 24 teams in his pocket, but had to cancel it because of the corona pandemic. The framework conditions in the background during the preparations were unprecedented: FIFA was looking for an investor who would buy most of the rights to the tournament and would be given an unusually large say in the matter.

According to media reports, the investor should be able to make suggestions for alternative tournament parameters for his money in future editions of the tournament, “including the frequency, format, qualification modalities and teams involved”. In the coming years, the tournament will probably continue to be played with seven teams – in the background the preparations for the general conditions for the new big tournament will also be running.

In the next business cycle, sales should increase to eleven billion US dollars (10.3 billion euros), as announced by Infantino. He emphasized that the new Club World Cup was not included.



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