FIFA selects the USA as host
The United States further cemented its role as the premier center of global football for years to come when FIFA announced on Friday that the United States will host the 2025 Club World Cup, the first edition of an expanded tournament that will draw many of the biggest names of sport will participate.
The USA is already poised to host or co-host the 2026 Men’s World Cup and the 2024 Men’s Copa America. It’s also a regular venue for regional championships, including the men’s and women’s CONCACAF Gold Cups, and hopes to partner with Mexico to host the 2027 Women’s World Cup. Then comes the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.
Now, 12 months away from the 2026 bonanza, FIFA’s attempt to replicate their crown jewel on the club side will also happen in the US.
The Club World Cup is currently an eight-team tournament involving the champions of each continent. But from 2025 it will be a 4-yearly, month-long event with 32 teams. Twelve of these 32 teams will come from Europe. Chelsea, Real Madrid and Manchester City have already qualified as winners of the last three UEFA Champions League titles. Several more of football’s biggest brands will also be attending.
The tournament will be played in June and July 2025, in the same time slot as the traditional World Cup the following summer. And so it will be, in part, a dress rehearsal and introduction to the largest single-sport tournament in recorded human history.
The FIFA Council, the organization’s most powerful decision-making body, voted in favor of the United States at a virtual meeting this week. “The decision was made based on the United States’ position as a proven leader in hosting global events and because it would allow FIFA to maximize synergies with hosting the 2026 FIFA World Cup, benefiting both the tournaments and the development of football in the North American region,” FIFA said in a statement.
Exact dates, venues and format have not yet been announced. This will be decided over the coming months and years. But many of the 11 U.S. cities and stadiums hosting matches at the 2026 World Cup are also expected to be named hosts of the 2025 Club World Cup.
Who will play at the Club World Cup 2025?
However, FIFA has already confirmed the qualification procedures for the tournament and the field of participants is already taking shape.
With the USA selected as hosts, the field will include five clubs from North and Central America, four from Asia, four from Africa, six from South America, one from Oceania and 12 from Europe.
The clubs that have already qualified as continental champions since 2021 are:
Up to seven more spots will go to continental championship winners through 2024. The rest goes to the top-rated remaining sides of their respective confederations, based on rankings assessing club performance from 2021 to 2024, with one caveat: there is a cap of two per country, unless three or more of the continental champions are from the same one Nation.
UEFA will be able to field at least eight non-champions, meaning Bayern Munich, PSG and other superclubs will almost certainly qualify even if they don’t win the 2023-24 Champions League. However, due to the two-per-country limit, Manchester United would need to win next season’s Champions League to secure a spot. (Liverpool, who failed to qualify for the 2023-24 Champions League, have already been ruled out.)
These top European clubs will be favorites for the Club World Cup, with Palmeiras, Flamengo and other South American clubs being their most likely non-European challengers.
The US will have at least two representatives. The Sounders have already qualified as winners of the 2022 CONCACAF Champions League. It’s unclear how the US will select their second (or third) team as they get an extra spot as the tournament hosts.
How about a Women’s Club World Cup?
While men’s soccer talent is largely concentrated at European clubs, a women’s Club World Cup would be far more competitive and meaningful, where the National Women’s Soccer League and top European leagues duel for global dominance.
FIFA has been discussing the concept for almost a decade. In December, FIFA President Gianni Infantino said again that a Women’s Club World Cup would be held. However, he gave no details and no concrete plans were put into action.