FIFA wants to charge hosts of planned 24-team Club World Cup

FIFA President Gianni Infantino participates in the annual conference of the South American Football Confederation, CONMEBOL, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Thursday, April 12, 2018. The governing body of South American soccer has asked FIFA to expand the World Cup to 48 teams for the 2022 tournament in Qatar. (AP Photo/Martin Ruggiero)

FIFA wants to charge hosting fees for staging 24-team Club World Cup tournaments worth at least $3 billion each and planned to kick off in 2021

GENEVA — FIFA wants to charge hosting fees for staging 24-team Club World Cup tournaments worth at least $3 billion each and planned to kick off in 2021.

In a briefing document seen by The Associated Press, FIFA says host markets "must have a propensity to pay a hosting fee" — a business model similar to Formula One auto racing.

FIFA has a $25 billion offer from a consortium including Chinese, Saudi Arabian and American interests to help organize and market the revamped Club World Cup and a new global league for national teams for 12 years through 2033. Details were first reported this week by The New York Times.

However, the project faces strong opposition from soccer leaders in Europe who see a threat to their hugely popular Champions League.

Each edition of a proposed Club World Cup every four years would have guaranteed revenue of $3 billion.

Even FIFA's own briefing document suggests just $650 million to $1 billion would be "required to make it a successful project." The 2017 Club World Cup played in the United Arab Emirates — featuring six continental champions and the host nation's champion — earned just $37 million for FIFA in its annual December slot.

A suitable host of a bigger tournament in June or July would provide "the financial investment needed to enable FIFA to provide the necessary financial incentives," the 22-page document stated.

The 24 clubs would share 75 percent of the revenue, the document said — or potentially more than $2 billion.

The Club World Cup would be played in June or July every four years and include 12 European teams, including the Champions League finalists and Europa League winners from the previous four seasons. If a club qualified on merit multiple times, entries would then be allocated according to a UEFA ranking system, typically led by storied and successful clubs.

South American clubs would have four guaranteed places for Copa Libertadores winners. Two places each would go to clubs from Africa, Asia and the North American region, one from the host country and the final place in a playoff involving clubs from South America and Oceania, the briefing paper suggests.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has said he doubts the proposed Club World Cup could start in 2021, and European clubs leader Andrea Agnelli, the Juventus president, said last month no new competition should be added before 2024.

The briefing document states FIFA could make a final decision on the Club World Cup at a meeting in Moscow on June 10. The FIFA Council is chaired by President Gianni Infantino.

Infantino was rebuffed by council colleagues last month when he pressed for progress on the $25 billion offer before a 60-day deadline expires in May. He did not identify the investors, citing a non-disclosure agreement.

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