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FIFA boss touts Club World Cup shake-up

Barcelona are the current World Club Champions after a 3-0 victory over River Plate in Yokohama, suburban Tokyo © AFP / Kazuhiro Nogi

ROME, Italy, Nov 18 – Gianni Infantino wants a radical shake-up to the Club World Cup, increasing the number of teams taking part in the annual event from seven to 32.

The existing format brings together champions from each of the continental federations and is held in December with Japan the 2016 hosts.

If Infantino’s idea gains traction the annual competition would undergo a massive upgrade and be staged instead in June.

The FIFA president told Italy’s Gazzetta dello Sport on Friday that as it stands the event “has a complicated formula held at a difficult time, attracting little enthusiasm.”

“But in summer, from June 10 to 30, with 32 of the world’s best clubs!” he suggested.

“Is it worth the tiring trips involving lots of air travel and time zones, or a tournament?

“But it all depends on the health of the players who must be able to rest afterwards.”

Infantino also discussed the notion with Spain’s Mundo Deportivo telling the Catalan daily “that football nowadays isn’t just Europe and South America”.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino took the helm of football’s governing body in February 2016 © AFP/File / Fabrice Coffrini

“The world has changed, so we have to find a Club World Cup which will be more interesting for the teams, as well as the fans around the world,” he added.

As to whether Infantino’s new look Club World Club could be held from 2019, the head of football’s governing world body told the paper “Yes, why not?”

He revealed that former Croatian and Dutch internationals Zvonimir Boban and Marco van Basten were working on ways to improve the event.

Boban is Infantino’s special advisor on football matters, and Van Basten is FIFA’s chief technical development officer.

Barcelona are the reigning Club World Cup champions with the 2016 edition being held in Japan from December 8-18 and featuring teams such as Real Madrid, Club America, Atletico Nacional, Mamelodi Sundowns, and Auckland City.

European teams have won the title seven times in the 11 years the competition has been played under the current seven-team format.