FIFA awards 5 years of World Cup U17 hosting to Qatar and Morocco, starting 2025

March 15 – In a surprise move, global governing body FIFA has awarded five expanded U-17 World Cups to Qatar and five 24-team U-17 Women’s World Cups to Morocco, highlighting Qatar’s enduring influence in the game and the organisation’s insatiable expansion drive.

From 2025 through 2029, the Gulf Nation will stage a new-look U-17 global finals, FIFA confirmed on Thursday following a Council meeting.

The finals will be staged on an annual basis instead of every two years and 48 teams will compete for the ultimate prize in the age category.

Zurich applied the same logic to the women’s equivalent with Morocco organising the tournament, featuring 24 teams (not 48 like the men’s but an increase from the current 16) every year during the same period.

In a statement, FIFA highlighted there had been “a global call for expressions of interest in hosting both competitions” and said that existing venues will be used “in the interest of tournament efficiencies and sustainability.”

That should not be a problem for Qatar, the hosts of the 2022 World Cup, and Morocco, one of six nations that will welcome the 2030 World Cup.

FIFA did not disclose which other countries had expressed interest in hosting the youth tournaments. In 2023, Indonesia staged the U-17 World Cup after refusing to stage the U-20 edition because of Israel’s participation. This year the Dominican Republic will stage the U-17 Women’s World Cup.

In 2025, FIFA will roll out the revamped finals as it seeks to ensure that no age group misses out on the opportunity to play on the biggest stage which it says will develop international football around the world, a key part of its mission statement. How staging a tournament in Qatar five times in a row answers that call remains to be seen. The U-17 World Cup was often seen as a chance for developing nations to stage an important tournament and gain hosting experience.

Qatar hosted the 2023 Asian Cup in January this year, and will stage the U-23 Asian Cup starting next month. The 2022 World Cup hosts will also welcome back the FIFA Arab Cup.

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