Looks like FIFA has its eye on the USA all over again. According to multiple sources, the United States is among the contenders to host the 2023 FIFA Club World Cup, after agreements could not be reached with either of the two former frontrunners, Abu Dhabi or China.
As a side note, this differs from the World Cup as many know it because this is a competition between the strongest club teams (not national teams) worldwide.
If the Club World Cup comes to the U.S., it is likely we’ll see matches played at an NFL stadium that could allow for huge crowds. Since the event is played the week of February 6-12, warm-weather destinations and covered facilities are likely to have the edge in the bidding war. There is no word yet on any bid process.
And there are multiple scenarios as to who we might see on the field of play. Stars and Stripes FC notes, “Major League Soccer will not be able to field two teams in the Club World Cup should it be hosted in the United States. According to the tournament format, if the host nation has a team that wins its confederation tournament, the host nation’s champion slot is then given to the next best team from the confederation tournament that is not from the host nation. Since the Sounders beat Mexico’s Pumas UNAM in the CONCACAF Champions League final, Pumas would be the final team in the Club World Cup should the United States serve as hosts.”
AS.com can take the prognostications even further, pointing out that the potential dates fall just prior to the first round of UEFA Champions League last-16 first legs, which are scheduled to be played on February 14 and 15.
In Spain, FIFA’s proposed dates clash with this term’s Copa del Rey, whose semi-final first legs have been set for February 8 and 9. However, were Champions League holders Real Madrid to qualify for the last four of the domestic cup competition, the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) would be willing to adapt.
Mindful of the importance FIFA places on the Club World Cup, the RFEF would seek out an alternative date on which Los Blancos could play a Copa last-four tie.
Don’t start celebrating yet, though; Inside The Games notes that FIFA has yet to confirm if and when the tournament will go ahead.
So why might the tournament not be held? Well, according to the San Diego NBC affiliate, it’s everyone’s favorite scapegoat: the 2022 FIFA World Cup’s schedule. That is being held in Qatar in November, and this scheduling decision caused a strain for other tournaments’ timing.
But the rewards of hosting are significant. ScoreAndChange points out that a record attendance figure was set at the very first FIFA Club World Cup edition in Brazil when both a group stage match and the final had an attendance of 73,000. Between 2001 and 2004 there was no tournament and in 2005 FIFA introduced a new format.
The 2016 edition in Japan had the second highest attendance. In the final in Yokohama, 68,742 people (95 percent of the venue's 72,327 capacity) saw Real Madrid beat Japanese side Kashima Antlers. (In 2021, attendance was significantly lower because of stadium capacity restrictions; however, it is likely the 2023 edition, particularly in the U.S., would be free of those and would see significant tourism).
SDM will continue to follow this developing issue.