FIFA head In­fantino sug­gests 32-team Club World Cup in 2019

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

FIFA Pres­i­dent Gianni In­fantino thinks the mostly unloved Club World Cup could ex­pand to a 32team tour­na­ment played in June.

In­fantino said in in­ter­views pub­lished on Fri­day in Ital­ian and Span­ish news­pa­pers that a re­vamped club com­pe­ti­tion could start in 2019.

A 32-team event played in the last three weeks of June would be more bal­anced and more at­trac­tive to broad­cast­ers and spon­sors, In­fantino said in com­ments re­ported by the Gazzetta dello Sport and El Mundo De­portivo dailies.

In­fantino's sug­ges­tion also fol­lows spec­u­la­tion that China wants to host more in­ter­na­tional foot­ball as part of a wide-rang­ing plan to in­vest heav­ily in the sport.

Last year, Chi­nese re­tailer Alibaba E-Auto signed as the Club World Cup ti­tle spon­sor through 2022.

The ex­ist­ing seven-team Club World Cup for­mat in De­cem­ber has been seen as vul­ner­a­ble in a FIFA re­view of spend­ing and tour­na­ment plans since In­fantino was elected pres­i­dent in Fe­bru­ary.

The 2015 Club World Cup in Ja­pan earned a lit­tle over $20 mil­lion in com­mer­cial rev­enue, ac­cord­ing to FIFA's most re­cent fi­nan­cial report. The 2014 edi­tion hosted by Morocco earned $40 mil­lion.

The lat­est FIFA tour­na­ment ex­pan­sion plan fol­lows In­fantino pro­mot­ing a 48-team World Cup to start in 2026. That de­ci­sion could be taken by FIFA's rul­ing coun­cil at a Jan. 9-10 meet­ing in Zurich.

Cur­rently, the Club World Cup is a lit­tle-watched event fea­tur­ing the cham­pi­ons of FIFA's six con­ti­nen­tal con­fed­er­a­tions, plus the host na­tion's league win­ner.

Typ­i­cally, it leads to a fi­nal be­tween the cham­pi­ons of Europe and South Amer­ica. Euro­pean fans have shown lit­tle in­ter­est in a com­pe­ti­tion that also clashes with their do­mes­tic leagues.

Ja­pan hosts next month's edi­tion fea­tur­ing Real Madrid and Atletico Na­cional of Colom­bia.

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