Intercontinental club football has perhaps never received the importance it deserves, even though continental club competitions such as the UEFA Champions League and CAF Champions League have been the Holy Grail for teams in their respective regions. That could now all change following FIFA’s groundbreaking FIFA Club World Cup format change, which is set to see the tournament expand from seven sides to 32 teams in 2025. In this feature, Soccer Laduma’s international team takes a deep delve into the details of this mega expansion and how African football, in particular, could be impacted by these changes.
The Club World Cup As We Know It
The story of the event, which has at times been dominated by superstars such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, begins in Brazil in 2000, when it was founded as the replacement competition for the Intercontinental Cup, a tournament that aimed to globalize club football but only featured teams from two confederations: South America’s CONMEBOL and Europe’s UEFA. Following the showpiece’s inauguration that year, it took a brief break before its second edition took place in 2005, with a format of seven teams playing a straight knockout format in the space of two weeks. Winners of the biggest continental club trophy in each confederation, including UEFA, CONMEBOL, CAF, CONCACAF, AFC, and OFC gained automatic qualification, while the seventh team would be the host nation’s domestic champion. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the tournament has been dominated by European teams, with UEFA sides winning 15 of the 19 editions so far, while South America has claimed the other four titles. Reigning champions Real Madrid have boasted the most success, having claimed the competition trophy a record five times, while their Spanish archrivals FC Barcelona have been the secondmost triumphant participant with three title victories.