Europe’s big clubs spearheaded by FC Barcelona are set to organize a European boycott of FIFA’s new-format Club World Cup.
The FIFA Council has approved plans for a new 24-team Club World Cup to begin in 2021.
The Council approved the idea by 25 votes to seven, with FIFA President Gianni Infantino later saying he was “extremely happy” the idea had been backed.
“Now the world will see a real Club World Cup where fans will see the best teams in the world compete to be crowned the real world champions,” he said.
A FIFA Club World Cup does already exist, but features just seven teams each year from six Confederations.
The new version, if approved by the FIFA Congress on June 5 in Paris, would include eight teams from Europe alone, six from South America, three each from Africa, Asia and North and Central America and one from Oceania.
It would be played during the current international window reserved for the Confederations Cup, which would be scrapped.
It has been reported each participating team could earn £50 million ($66 million/€59 million), but a letter signed by members of the European Club Association (ECA) Board, said “no ECA clubs would take part.”
According to Reuters, the letter has been signed by officials from clubs including Manchester United, Barcelona and Dutch giants Ajax.
“We wish to restate the position of ECA: (a) ECA is unwilling to consider any new or significantly revised competition prior to a holistic assessment of the IMC [International match calendar] post-2024 being conducted and an agreement as to its underlying principles being reached; and (b) in any event, a Club World Cup in June 2021, as proposed by FIFA, is not acceptable in light of the existing competitions and the IMC, which is fixed until 2024,” Reuters reported the letter saying.
According to a FIFA document seen by the Associated Press, FIFA plans for the tournament in 2021 to take place from June 17 to July 4.
That would mean it starting nine days after a period of 2022 World Cup qualifiers and finishing just one day before the start of the Africa Cup of Nations.