FIFA To Host Expanded '21 Club World Cup In China
FIFA "plans to grant China the rights to host the inaugural version of its expanded Club World Cup, a 24-team tournament" scheduled for '21, according to Tariq Panja of the N.Y. TIMES. Sources said that the decision to award the hosting rights to China will be "announced on Friday in Shanghai after it is confirmed in a vote of FIFA's governing council at its quarterly meeting." European soccer officials, who had "strongly opposed an expanded tournament for clubs when the plans were raised, now appear set to go along, and to provide a third of the teams in the expanded tournament." The new quadrennial event will "replace the unpopular Confederations Cup." It also will "mean the demise of the Club World Cup as an annual event." In China, FIFA will be "rewarding a country that," since a '15 government edict made soccer a national priority, has "spent billions of dollars on coaching programs, sponsorship agreements and investments in a big spending domestic league that has lured top players with some of the biggest salaries in world soccer." The club championship also "could be a boost for a Chinese bid to host" the '30 World Cup, but it also will "force FIFA to navigate the same tricky political ground that recently caused serious damage to the NBA's commercial relationship with China" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/21).