FIFA plans to introduce a Women’s Club World Cup, which will join the men’s equivalent that has existed since 2000.
Gianni Infantino, president of FIFA, made the announcement to reporters Friday ahead of Sunday’s men’s World Cup final between France and Argentina. Details for the women’s tournament are still to come, including a launch date, but the match calendar will remain unchanged until 2025.
The annual men’s Club World Cup features seven teams in its current iteration but will expand to 32 teams starting with the 2025 tournament. FIFA will consult with “relevant stakeholders” in the coming months on plans for both the men’s and women’s tournaments.
FIFA also has endorsed women’s Olympic soccer to expand from 12 to 16 teams, Infantino confirmed. And the international governing body for soccer has approved a new Futsal Women’s World Cup.
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Vivianne Miedema recently spoke out about the already packed match calendar and the strain it places on players’ health, even before the announcement of the Club World Cup.
Amid the crammed schedules, many players have sustained season-ending injuries this year, including Christen Press, Alexia Putellas, Marta and Beth Mead, who likely will miss the 2023 World Cup.
“I see a worrying pattern,” she wrote in a column for Dutch newspaper AD. “The playing calendar for both the women and the men is simply too full. Actually, it’s just a shame. We are in a world that goes on and on and there are few players who say anything about it. I do. We go completely crazy with the tax on football players and football players.
“I can already envisage some of the reactions to this column, you know. ‘We have the best profession in the world, we earn a lot of money and we don’t have to complain. Just play football.’”
Infantino insisted while speaking to reporters in Qatar that “players’ health and well-being” was a “primary goal” when planning for both Club World Cup tournaments.
Still, the global union for professional football players (FIFPRO) criticized the additions.
“FIFPRO took note with surprise of today’s decisions by the FIFA Council concerning the international match calendars for men’s and women’s football that could have serious consequences for and aggravate pressure on the welfare and employment of players,” the organization said in a statement.
“Despite an understanding FIFPRO reached with FIFA last week that a joint negotiation of the international match calendar would take place before the FIFA Congress in March 2023, these decisions were taken unilaterally without seriously consulting, let alone agreeing, with the players.”