GENEVA (AP) — FIFA is forcing the pace on talks over a $25 billion offer to revamp the Club World Cup and create a global national team competition.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino is seeking an urgent meeting in the next week with leaders of the six continental governing bodies, following his hosting of invited officials from some of Europe’s top clubs. That session was held last Friday, the world soccer body said on Monday.
The European Club Association has strongly opposed FIFA’s hope for a four-yearly club tournament starting in 2021, which could rival the UEFA-organized Champions League.
UEFA has also been skeptical of the Club World Cup expansion plan, and last year also proposed a Global Nations League to develop from its European version which kicks off in September.
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However, a similar worldwide project is tied into the FIFA-controlled $25 billion, 12-year offer from a Japanese-led consortium including investors from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the United States.
FIFA said it was holding “informal ongoing discussions with different stakeholders on the topic of the future Club World Cups.”
Though FIFA published a statement last Friday after hosting agents to discuss transfer market reforms, a separate meeting also in Zurich with a select group of clubs was not announced in advance nor details given after.
Infantino is set to meet “in the near future” with the presidents and general secretaries of the six continental confederations, FIFA said.
They include UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin, who has publicly doubted that a proposed 24-team Club World Cup could start in 2021.
Currently, the Club World Cup is an annual, seven-team event in December for continental champions and the host nation’s league winner. It generates little interest in Europe, and the 2017 edition in the United Arab Emirates earned just $37 million revenue for FIFA.
The Saudi-backed investors have guaranteed at least $3 billion for each edition, which would replace in soccer’s calendar the mostly unloved Confederations Cup that functions as a warmup event for World Cup host nations.
The proposal to FIFA would see the Club World Cup played in June or July every four years and have 12 European teams, including the Champions League finalists and Europa League winners from the previous four seasons. If a club qualified on merit multiple times, entries would be allocated according to a UEFA ranking system, typically led by storied and successful clubs.
South American clubs would have four guaranteed places for Copa Libertadores winners. Two places each would go to clubs from Africa, Asia and the North American region, one from the host country and the final place in a playoff involving clubs from South America and Oceania.
Infantino was rebuffed by colleagues on FIFA’s ruling council in March when he pressed for progress on the $25 billion offer before a 60-day deadline expires in May. He did not identify the investors, citing a non-disclosure agreement.