The Club World Cup could take a big step toward becoming a must-watch event, but at what cost?
FIFA boss Gianni Infantino would like to make the tournament, which currently brings together the winners of major club competitions in each of the world’s confederations plus a host.
Currently, the tournament has eight teams, and the winners of the UEFA Champions League and Copa Libertadores do not join until the semi-finals.
Infantino would like to see the tournament, traditionally held before Christmas season, become a three-week event with 32 teams by 2019.
“Today football is not only Europe and South America. The world has changed. So we must find a more interesting for the Club World Cup, but also for fans around the world. It’s what we try to achieve with the current much more attractive tournament with more quality among participants and clubs. That will attract sponsors, broadcasters worldwide.”
He’s right, of course, but let’s circle back to the cost. Schedule congestion is already very intense, so it stands to reason other competitions would need to be lessened or the season lengthened.
At the same time — with as much selfishness as possible — imagine a three week tourney in the South, one that has at least one MLS team competing against some of the world’s best. Or, in the event of an MLS team getting the job done in the CONCACAF Champions League, a tournament abroad with an MLS side going into a group stage against the best from three other leagues.
It’s one of the measuring sticks we’ve always wanted. Still, it seems unlikely to happen.
Brazilian clubs won the first three Club World Cups, but European sides have since won eight of nine.