Manchester City crammed a fifth trophy into a glorious 2023 by lifting the Club World Cup for the first time in Saudi Arabia to continue the domination by European sides of a tournament that has ceased to be competitive.
Not since Corinthians beat Chelsea in 2012 have the Champions League winners failed to follow up that triumph by becoming world champions.
City’s 4-0 win over Fluminense was a 22nd consecutive victory in games in the competition for European sides.
A lack of jeopardy is part of the reasoning for a transformation of the competition from 2025.
The current format of seven teams playing a knockout over little more than a week will be ripped up for a 32-team competition spread over the course of a month in the United States in two years’ time.
FIFA are muscling in on European governing body UEFA by seeking to benefit from the commercial attraction of Europe’s elite clubs facing off in knockout competition.
The presence of 12 European clubs will add greater competition, but a tournament designed to crown the best team in the world risks turning into a mini version of the Champions League every four years.
Packing even more games into a congested schedule has been met with a backlash by players union FIFPRO.
The 2025 Club World Cup, scheduled to run from June 15 to July 13, will mean one club season will finish barely a month before another begins.
But FIFA argue it is also necessary to spread resources to major clubs in other continents to avoid the continual flow of the best talent from around the globe to Europe.
“The positive impact that this will have on clubs is going to be huge, because it will increase resources for clubs all over the world to develop and to compete,” said Arsene Wenger, FIFA’s chief of global football development.
“In Europe we are lucky, but it’s important that we make football really global and this creates a chance for other clubs to progress, this is the real target.”