It wasn’t even a year ago that FIFA was considering awarding its 2023 Club World Cup to the United States after agreements could not be reached with either of the two former frontrunners for hosting, Abu Dhabi or China.
That didn’t happen but apparently, the USA stood out enough in FIFA’s mind to be awarded the 2025 version of the event, the first that will feature an expanded 32-team format. The Club World Cup is expected to be presented in June and July.
Venues for the event have not been announced; however, the Associated Press says that FIFA may elect to keep all games in the USA, or it could award some games to Canada or Mexico as well. It is expected that many of the 11 U.S. cities and stadiums that will host 2026 World Cup games will be named as 2025 Club World Cup hosts. (This may also represent a chance for cities that were not selected as hosts to put their hats in the ring again.)
Oh, and by the way, this event differs from the regular World Cup since it draws not national teams but club teams. Among those who have qualified so far for 2025 play, according to Front Office Sports, are Spain’s Real Madrid, the English Premier League’s Manchester City and Chelsea, and MLS’s Seattle Sounders, as well as Palmeiras (Brazil), Flamengo (Brazil), Monterrey (Mexico), Leon (Mexico), Al-Ahly (Egypt), Wydad Casablanca (Morocco), Urawa Red Diamonds (Japan) and Al Hilal (Saudi Arabia).
The expansion of the Club World Cup is significant; up until now, it has been played with only seven teams.
A Club World Cup is a hosting coup, drawing international fans. 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, the 2023 edition, which will be played this December in Saudi Arabia, will not have those problems and will likely reap excellent economic impact.
The USA’s soccer cup runneth over, apparently, with two other major tournaments reaching these shores: The 2024 Copa America, the men’s World Cup in 2026, which will also have matches in Canada and Mexico. Cities that will host 2026 World Cup action include the following:
USA: Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, New York/New Jersey, Philadelphia, San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle.
Mexico: Guadalajara, Mexico City, Monterrey
Canada: Toronto, Vancouver
Mexico and the U.S. have also made a joint bid to co-host the 2027 Women’s World Cup; FIFA is not expected to make any announcements until next May.
FIFA’s president, Gianni Infantino, gave an enthusiastic thumbs-up to the announcement, noting, “The FIFA Club World Cup 2025 will be the pinnacle of elite professional men's club football, and with the required infrastructure in place together with a massive local interest, the United States is the ideal host to kick off this new, global tournament. With some of the world's top clubs already qualified, fans from every continent will be bringing their passion and energy to the United States in two years' time for this significant milestone in our mission to make football truly global.”