FIFA, football’s global governing body, has announced that its Club World Cup will now take place in 2022, with the United Arab Emirates to replace Japan as the host country.
FIFA will confirm the precise details of the rescheduled tournament nearer the time. The seven-team tournament will feature the winners of continental club competitions, as well as the league champions of the host country.
It had previously been reported that FIFA was considering postponing the event until January or February, with Qatar among the nations mooted to be interested in hosting. The UAE has now been selected, although details of host venues have not yet been confirmed.
The event had been due to take place in Japan in December, but the Japan Football Association (JFA) decided to forgo its hosting rights to the tournament due to fears over the spread of COVID-19.
The JFA made the decision amid concerns that it would struggle to make a profit on the tournament due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions in the country.
Japan had been awarded rights to the Club World Cup in December last year. This year had been set to feature two editions of the tournament due to the effects of the pandemic, after the 2020 edition was postponed until February 2021.
The semi-finals and final of this year’s event were due to take place at Japan’s Yokohama Stadium. Capacity crowds of over 60,000 for these games were expected to lead to the Club World Cup returning a profit for the JFA, however COVID-19 restrictions would have resulted in an operating loss for a body which has seen its profit for 2020 fall by JPY5bn (£31.8m/€37.7m/$43.8m) from 2019 to JPY15bn.
So far, Chelsea, Al Ahly and Auckland City have qualified for the Club World Cup. Al Jazira will also compete as the defending champions of the UAE Pro League.
The UAE also hosted the tournament in 2009, 2010, 2017 and 2018. The final of the 2018 tournament was held at the Zayed Sports City Stadium (pictured) in Abu Dhabi.