A year before 48 of the best men’s national soccer teams come to North America for the World Cup, 32 of the best club teams will arrive in the United States for the first edition of an expanded Club World Cup in 2025.
The entrants will include the 12 top European teams based on their performances in the Champions League, including Chelsea, Real Madrid and Manchester City. Clubs from the rest of the world will qualify from their various continental club championships.
The Seattle Sounders of Major League Soccer earned a berth by winning the 2022 Concacaf Champions League, and teams from Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Brazil and elsewhere have already qualified, with more than half the field still to be determined.
FIFA announced Friday that the United States would host the event. The cities where games will be held and the exact format of the tournament have not yet been disclosed. The event is expected to be held in June and July.
FIFA has long dreamed of a world championship for club teams that might someday rival the big international team events it holds. At one point, a 24-team version of the event was announced for China but was scrapped, in part because of the pandemic.
Under the current format, started in 2005, the Club World Cup has been held annually in the winter months, with seven teams — one per continent and one from the host country. The expanded event, proposed long ago but delayed several times, is expected to be held every four years.
Despite the global field, European teams nearly always win the event, and with 12 of 32 entrants in the new format, they seem likely to continue to do so. This means that the Club World Cup could become essentially a spruced-up version of Europe’s Champions League. It would also add to the nearly year-round schedule of games for top players.
In part for these reasons, the European governing body, UEFA, some top club teams and representatives for players have been at times less than enthusiastic about the expanded event.
J.T. Batson, the chief executive of U.S. Soccer, said he was excited about the coming event.
Besides the 12 European entrants, the 2025 event will include six teams from South America; four each from Asia, Africa and the North and Central America and Caribbean region; one from Oceania; and one from the host country, in this case the United States.
The expanded Club World Cup will come one year before the 2026 World Cup, which will hold the bulk of its games, including the final, in the United States, with some games in Canada and Mexico. In 2024, the United States will host the Copa América, the championship for South American national teams.