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FIFA awards 2023 Club World Cup to Saudi Arabia

Featured image credit: Saudi Arabian Football Federation

Saudi Arabia has further strengthened its position in the major events hosting market by being awarded the right to stage the 2023 FIFA Club World Cup.

World football’s governing body made the announcement yesterday (Tuesday) at its FIFA Council meeting, with the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) to host from December 12-22.

Saudi Arabia will become the sixth country to host the Club World Cup since its inception in 2000, with yesterday’s announcement coming after the conclusion of the 2022 tournament in Morocco at the weekend.

In awarding the hosting rights to Morocco in December, FIFA announced that an expanded version of the tournament has now been set for 2025. Expanding the Club World Cup has long been one of the key missions of FIFA president Gianni Infantino. China was due to host the inaugural edition of a revamped tournament in 2021, only for it to be cancelled due to the global pandemic.

The vision at that time was for a 24-team tournament, but a 32-team event will now take place in June 2025, and subsequently be held every four years. Saudi Arabia’s 2023 Club World Cup will remain a seven-club affair.

Yesterday’s announcement came after Saudi Arabia this month landed hosting rights to the 2027 Asian Cup, while the staging of a FIFA event comes with the Kingdom being strongly linked to a bid for the 2030 World Cup, potentially as part of a joint effort with Greece and Egypt.

Saudi Arabia’s Sports Minister, HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal, said: “We are proud of this hosting, and we welcome the most powerful football clubs in the world and their fans in the Kingdom for this tournament, which is a continuation of the international sporting events that it is witnessing.

“Today, the Kingdom is taking an important step forward in the journey of transformation in the field of football, and we are confident that everyone will live the reality of the progress that has been achieved in our country at various levels.”