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FIFA takes Club World Cup to Qatar

FIFA has awarded hosting rights for the next two editions of its Club World Cup to Qatar, with the tournaments set to serve as test events for the nation’s staging of the 2022 World Cup.

The appointment was made by the FIFA Council, the decision-making group of world football’s governing body, as the Club World Cup prepares to expand from 2021.

The final two editions of the Club World Cup in its existing seven-team format will be held in Qatar in 2019 and 2020. FIFA said the tournaments will serve as “valuable test events” in the build-up to Qatar 2022 as their timing, usually around early December, corresponds with that of the next World Cup, allowing for testing under similar climatic conditions.

“It is a great test event,” Qatar Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) secretary general Hassan Al-Thawadi said, according to the Associated Press news agency. “So we will definitely try to utilise as much as possible, all the different facets of hosting a World Cup.”

Al-Thawadi said this will include trying to accommodate fans who would want to drink alcohol at the Club World Cup. Alcoholic drinks are currently only available for foreigners in a limited number of bars in Qatar. “Alcohol will be available in certain areas,” Al-Thawadi added.

“The details of it operationally, how it’s going to work out, all that stuff will be put in place and we will be announcing it in due course. We will have fan zones available so it will be a great opportunity for us to put in place some of the plans we have for the World Cup already to get lessons learnt from it.”

Venues for the 2019 Club World Cup have yet to be confirmed, but Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah city last month became the second 2022 World Cup venue to open its doors after hosting the final of the Amir Cup club competition.

The stadium (pictured) is the first Qatar 2022 venue to be built from scratch, following the redevelopment of Khalifa International Stadium, which was inaugurated in May 2017 for that year’s Amir Cup final.

In March, the FIFA Council approved the establishment of a revamped, 24-team Club World Cup, the pilot edition of which will be held in June and July 2021.

The new-look Club World Cup will be played during the international match calendar slot that corresponded to national team tournament the Confederations Cup, traditionally held as a warm-up event for the World Cup. In the 2021 pilot edition, the 24 teams will be split into eight groups of three teams each, with the group winners to qualify for the quarter-finals in a knockout format.

Image: SC