FIFA announce plans for Women's Club World Cup
FIFA have confirmed plans to introduce a first ever Women’s Club World Cup, matching the similar men’s competition that has been an annual part of the football calendar since 2005.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino had stated back in 2019 that a proposed new Women’s Club World Cup competition would start ‘as soon as possible’.
The promise of the new Club World Cup came at Friday's FIFA council meeting. Further key points from the meeting include an endorsement for expanding the number of women's football teams at the Olympics from 12 to 16 and the creation of a Futsal Women’s World Cup.
It was also announced that the current international match calendar will remain unchanged until 2025, with the hosts for the 2027 and 2031 World Cups to be decided in 2024 and 2025 respectively.
“We want to create a new women’s Club World Cup and a new Fifa Futsal Women’s World Cup every four years," FIFA president Gianni Infantino said. "We would like to see if the women’s Olympic tournament can have 16 teams like the men’s does."
At this stage, FIFA have offered little in the way of details as to how a Women’s Club World Cup might look amid significant changes and expansion to the existing men’s format. The new Club World Cup is set to feature 32 men’s teams, and will begin under this fresh format in 2025.
"In establishing the details of the new international match calendars, due consideration shall be given to the players’ health and well-being as a primary goal," a statement from FIFA read. "All of the above key strategic principles will be detailed in consultation with the relevant stakeholders in the coming months."
What it will mean is the opportunity for club teams in different continental confederations to play each other in an official competitive setting for the first time.
Early unofficial forerunners to a Women’s Club World Cup have been taking place sporadically for the past decade. In 2012, Lyon, Canberra United, INAC Kobe and NTV Beleza played an invitational tournament organised by the Japan Football Association, while there were plans in 2014 to host a one-off game between then UEFA Champions League holders (Wolfsburg) and then Copa Libertadores Femenina champions (Sao Jose) that never got off the ground.
More recent steps included a friendly between Arsenal and Seattle Reign (now OL Reign) in 2016.
The creation of a Women's Club World Cup has already been met with criticism, given the number of long-term injuries that have been sustained this year, and the questions raised over the already congested fixture schedule.