China to host expanded Club World Cup in 2021: FIFA

FIFA has awarded the inaugural edition of its expanded 24-team Club World Cup to China, the association's president Gianni Infantino said Thursday in what he called a "historic decision".

The move underlines China's growing clout in football and could be a precursor to the country eventually hosting the World Cup proper.

Infantino made the announcement after a meeting in Shanghai of the FIFA Council, the decision-making unit of football's world governing body.

It will mean many of the biggest club teams in football -- and their array of stars -- descending on China in two years' time.

Infantino said in June that his new Club World Cup could generate as much as $50 billion in commercial income, although he did not state how many editions that would cover and a source told AFP the figure was "scarcely credible".

The current Club World Cup features seven teams including the holders of the UEFA Champions League. Qatar will host the competition this year and in 2020.

The Gulf state will use the two tournaments as logistical tests for stadiums and infrastructure ahead of the 2022 edition of the World Cup, FIFA's flagship international competition.

FIFA also will double funding for women's football to $1 billion over the next four years, Infantino said.

"The Council decided to put 500 million in addition to the 500 million already budgeted," he said.

The plan for a revamped 24-team Club World Cup starting in June-July 2021 was approved at a FIFA Council meeting in Miami in March despite opposition from UEFA and the powerful European Club Association.

Infantino said on Thursday that tournament would include eight teams from Europe.

The tournament will take place every four years and replaces the Confederations Cup, an international competition that acted as a test event for countries hosting a World Cup.

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