Football: Fifa puts revamped Club World Cup on hold

Roberto Firmino celebrates Liverpool winning the 2019 Club World Cup with the trophy. PHOTO: REUTERS

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND (REUTERS) - Fifa has agreed to delay the first edition of its revamped Club World Cup, due to be held in 2021, to make way for the Euro 2020 and Copa America tournaments which have been postponed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

After a video conference meeting of regional leaders, global soccer's governing body Fifa said in a statement on Wednesday (March 18) that it would "decide at a later stage when to schedule the new Fifa Club World Cup which was due to take place in June/July 2021."

Professional football has been wiped off the map for weeks, maybe months, after all the major leagues, cups and international competitions were suspended, culminating in the postponement of Euro 2020 and Copa America on Tuesday.

The new-look 24-team Club World Cup, the brainchild of Fifa president Gianni Infantino, would be the biggest so far, taking place across eight Chinese cities, and including eight teams from Europe with six from South America. Until now, the competition has featured seven teams.

Infantino has been keen for Fifa to get more involved in club football to reduce its financial dependency on the four-yearly international World Cup.

With soccer grappling with a health crisis that has left around 8,200 people dead and infected over 200,000, the sport's governing body also said that it would make a donation of US$10 million (S$14 million) to the World Health Organisation's (WHO) Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund.

Fifa has also set up a working group to consider possible changes to transfer regulations amid fears that players whose contracts end during the stoppage could lose their jobs.

Fifa said it wanted to "protect contracts for both players and clubs and adjusting player registration periods."

The group would also consider creating a fund to compensate those in football who suffer financial hardship as a result of the pandemic.

"This exceptional situation requires exceptional measures and decisions," said Fifa president Gianni Infantino.

"Fifa will keep in close contact with all stakeholders to assess and take the necessary steps to deal with the variety of issues we are facing. I count on the support of the whole football community moving forward."

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