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How Manchester United could make the cut for FIFA’s new Club World Cup

by Kuda Jinya


As one tournament ends, another is set to get a rebrand. FIFA has announced its plans for the Club World Cup, including binning the current setup.

The new format will start in 2025 (via The Daily Star).

The current setup

Currently, the tournament consists of seven teams. The seven teams comprise each continent’s respective cup winner and the host nation’s domestic league winner. Consequently, Europe has had a monopoly over the competition.

The fact that it has been two decades since a team outside Europe has won is a testament to European dominance in the cup.

Corinthians was the last team outside Europe to win the tournament in 2012.

The competition has lost any real merit and appears to be little more than a series of exhibition games between Champions League winners.
Plans for a revamped tournament were drawn up in 2017. In 2017, FIFA assessed proposals to increase the number of teams in the competition to 24.

A new look

Under the new setup, the tournament would replace the current FIFA Confederations Cup and be played every four years by 2021.

Covid brought these plans to a grinding halt in 2021. The competition’s qualifications would include the last four Champions League and Copa Libertadores winners. The remaining spots would be awarded through coefficient rankings.

If the new-look tournament were to start this year, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, and Liverpool would qualify as recent Champions League winners.

Under the current World Cup slots (13 European teams), the remaining nine could qualify through their coefficient rankings. This would see Manchester United and neighbours City, PSG, Barcelona, Juventus, Ajax, Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, and Roma joining the shortlist.

Judging by that lineup, Europe would be the favourites, but South America always produces sides that could beat the odds.

South America has four or five competitors in the World Cup, while in the 24-team iteration, they were awarded six.

Following the World Cup slots setup, Flamengo and Palmeiras would qualify as Copa Libertadores winners. Each has won it twice in the past four years.

The other three spots, through coefficient rankings, could go to River Plate, Boca Juniors, and Gremio.
Al-Hilal, Ulsan Hyundai, and Kashima Antlers would qualify through the AFC Champions League. Kawasaki Frontale and Jeonbuk FC would make the cut through the coefficient.

Wydad AC, Al Ahly, and Espérance de Tunis would qualify through the CAF Champions League and Mamelodi Sundowns FC via the coefficient.

In the CONCACAF, Seattle Sounders, Monterrey, Tigres, and Club América would also qualify.

Only two spots would now remain.

One position would go to the top coefficient-ranked OFC side, New Zealand’s Auckland City, and the other to the hosts’ domestic league winners, presuming it’s China would be Shandong Taishan.

With the teams decided, it’s safe to assume the tournament would play out like the current World Cup with single-leg knockout round clashes.

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