Japan looks poised to pull plug on Club World Cup hosting in December

September 9 – Japan is considering withdrawing as hosts of the Club World Cup, according to media reports.

Kyodo News reported that the Japan Football Association (JFA) has decided to give up the hosting rights to the club tournament. Virus restrictions could mean fan attendance at the Club World Cup will be limited as well.

“The risk of increasing infections and difficulty in turning a profit due to a likely cap on spectators swayed the decision,” reported Kyodo, citing anonymous sources.

Japan is due to stage the tournament in December, but FIFA may be left scrambling to find new organisers and could consider delaying the Club World Cup until next year if the Japanese do pull out.

This summer Japan hosted the Olympic Games and the Paralympics with a year delay because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but even so Tokyo endured spikes and a record fifth wave driven by the Delta variant. The Games were staged without fans in stadia.

Japan last hosted the tournament in 2016 when Real Madrid defeated Kashima Antlers. The 2021 edition was planned to be a part of the centenary celebrations of the JFA.

China had been designated as initial hosts to stage the tournament in an expanded 24-team format before the pandemic struck. The world federation was then forced to reschedule the tournament, which led to a delay in the expansion plans.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino however remains confident that the tournament in its new format is “still on the agenda, we just haven’t decided when it will take place.”

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