FIFA sets early 2026 date for 16-team inaugural Women’s Club World Cup

By Samindra Kunti in Bangkok

May 15 – FIFA’s plans for a Women’s Club World Cup, years in the making, are taking shape after the FIFA Council confirmed the inaugural edition of the tournament will take place in 2026 in a 16-team format. 

The world governing body has been keen on being seen at the forefront of the development of the women’s game following two successful Women’s World Cups in 2019 and 2023 and after a lengthy process a quadrennial Women’s Club World Cup has now been rubber-stamped by its Council. The maiden edition will be played in January and February 2026, but no host details were released.

The scheduling will however clash with the domestic European season. North America’s flagship National Women’s Soccer League kicks off typically in March.

As early as 2019, Infantino stressed he wanted to stage the competition. The tournament will form part of a new international match calendar for the women’s game in the 2023-26 cycle, which FIFA said follows consultation with stakeholders and respects player welfare.

In a statement, the FIFA boss said: “The women’s international match calendar and the subsequent amendments to our regulations represent an important milestone in our pledge to take the women’s game to the next level by enhancing competitiveness across the world, particularly in those regions women’s football is less developed and protecting the well-being of players.

“Having agreed the calendar well in advance will be beneficial for planning purposes. We would like to thank all the confederations and other stakeholders for their efforts and commitment towards our common goal.”

No details were released on the qualifying path to the tournament with some of the biggest women’s clubs all operating in Europe.

In the men’s game FIFA faces a similar imbalance as the world federation will finally launch their 32-team expanded Club World Cup in the United States next year. Europe will once again be expected to dominate. Premier League side Manchester City are the reigning world champions after they clinched the 2023 Club World Cup defeating Fluminense in the final in Jeddah.

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