FIFA confirmed the postponement of the new Club World Cup on Wednesday because it pledged to require a series of “exceptional measures” to guard football within the face of the coronavirus crisis, including a possible support fund for financially stricken clubs and associations.
World football’s administration accepted it might not play the new 24-team Club World Cup in June and July of 2021 after it had been announced on Tuesday that the European Championship and Copa America would both be moved to that period.
The two tournaments were postponed by 12 months thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, and FIFA president Gianni Infantino had already said in advance of a gathering with the heads of the six continental ruling bodies on Wednesday that he would propose putting back the Club World Cup to later in 2021, or even to 2022 or 2023.
In the end, a statement released by FIFA simply said new dates for the highly lucrative tournament would be decided “at a later stage”.
FIFA was seemingly left with little choice after Aleksander Ceferin, the president of the European game’s administration UEFA, said he had told Infantino on Tuesday “that the Club World Cup …cannot happen” in 2021 having postponed the Euro by a year. Ceferin did not indicate there was an offer of a compromise.
Ceferin has been critical of Infantino’s Club World Cup plans, and UEFA and South American administration CONMEBOL agreed together to place their continental competitions back by a year, having recently signed a cooperation agreement.
Meanwhile, FIFA announced the creation of a working party to deal with the results of the pandemic, including on players’ contracts and transfers and to affect the economic impact on the sport.
“This exceptional situation requires exceptional measures and decisions. This crisis impacts the whole world which is why solutions need to take into account the interests of all stakeholders around the world,” said Infantino.
On Tuesday, also as postponing Euro 2020 by a year, UEFA committed to end ing the European club season by the top of June but accepted that a further review will be required — it may be impossible to finish the season by then if the ongoing health crisis doesn’t ease.
That creates a potential headache with players’ contracts often expiring on June 30. Transfer window dates may have to be altered too.
The sudden stop to the season in much of the world is also a serious concern for many clubs and leagues who already have financial worries and now risk going weeks and potentially months without collecting gate receipts and other revenues.
FIFA has cash reserves of around $1.5 billion (1.37 billion euros) and said it might “analyse if a support fund at the global level will be required and how in that case concrete support mechanisms should be defined”.
The body is also pledging to donate $10 million (9.1 million euros) to the planet Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
The outbreak, which first emerged in China late last year, has quickly marched across the world, infecting quite 200,000 people and killing over 8,000.