The United Arab Emirates (UAE) will host this season’s Club World Cup in early 2022, FIFA president Gianni Infantino said on Wednesday.
Japan was originally scheduled to stage the tournament in December this year but withdrew last month due to the COVID-19 situation in the country.
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“It was decided [at the FIFA Council meeting] that the Club World Cup 2021 will be played in early 2022, the precise dates are still to be defined, but the hosts after the withdrawal of Japan because of the pandemic, the hosts will be the UAE…” said Infantino.
The UAE has staged the tournament four times before — in 2009, 2010, 2017 and 2018.
FIFA last year chose Japan as host for a traditional seven-club event after an expanded 24-team tournament, originally scheduled for China in June 2021, was delayed due to the pandemic.
The annual competition brings together the champions from the six global confederations as well as the host nation’s league winners.
Moving the competition away from December will help ease Chelsea’s fixture load, with Thomas Tuchel’s team already facing seven games that month, without factoring in the prospect of two more competitive fixtures in the Club World Cup.
Sources told ESPN earlier this month that February is an option for the event. Chelsea only have four games scheduled in February, although that number will increase if they progress in the FA Cup, Carabao Cup and Champions League.
A European club has won the last eight editions of the FIFA Club World Cup with Chelsea the last Champions League-winning team to fail to lift the trophy when they lost to Brazilian side Corinthians in Yokohama in Dec 2012.
Chelsea, African champions Al Ahly and Oceania representatives Auckland City are the only confirmed participants in this season’s Club World Cup.
The champions of Asia, South America and the CONCACAF region of North and Central America have yet to be decided. The winners of the as-yet-unknown host nation’s domestic league will also participate.