Club World Cup 2025 has nine teams qualified but will country quota disqualify big teams

March 17 – While details of the hosts for FIFA’s 32-team Club World Cup in 2025 are still to be announced, nine of the world’s biggest clubs have already qualified for the event as champions of their confederation’s leading club competitions.

Chelsea (England) and Real Madrid (Spain) have qualified from UEFA as Champions League winners in 2021 and 2022. Palmeiras and Flamengo (both Brazil) have qualified as winners of Conmebol’s Copa Libertadores in 2021 and 2023.

From Asia, Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal and Egypt’s Al Ahly are through as the last two winners of the AFC Champions League. Monterrey (Mexico) and Seattle Sounders (USA) are through as winners of the Concacaf Champions League while Morocco’s Wydad are qualified as winners of the CAF Champions League.

The next two seasons of these confederation club competitions will qualify a further 10 teams – filling the four slots allocated for the AFC and Concacaf.

Conmebol has a further two qualification places and UEFA another eight. CAF has a further slot to fill to complete their allocation of four while the OFC’s single spot will be decided by future results but looks likely to be Auckland City. The host nation also has a slot.

The remaining slots for Europe and South America will be filled, FIFA said they would be allocated and by a club ranking based on the same four-year period (2021-2024) as the Champions League winners.

But there are caveats, not least that a country can only have two participants unless they have more than two teams winning the Champions League in that four-year period.

The big loser in this will be the Premier League and its clubs who could conceivably have a further four teams qualify on merit – taken from Manchester City, Liverpool, Spurs, Arsenal and Manchester United – in terms of European club performance (assuming one of them ether wins the Champions League or qualifies via the ranking).

Serie A could similarly feel hard done by, as could Spain’s Athletico Madrid as the system will ensure Barcelona qualifies alongside Real Madrid from Spain.

What this qualification system does do is that by imposing a country quota it could open up the competition for some well-known clubs from outside of Europe’s top leagues – Ajax, Benfica and Sporting Lisbon could all potentially benefit. But whichever way you look at it the Club World Cup will be a competition without a significant number of the world’s best teams.

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