In 2025, the FIFA Club World Cup will be played in the United States from June to July and 32 teams will be present, but AC Milan’s spot is far from guaranteed and there is big prize money at stake.
The Club World Cup has actually been played 20 times before but it had been an annual event in winter which was much smaller in terms of the number of participants and was stopped in 2005.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino announced plans in 2016 to expand the Club World Cup to 32 teams beginning in 2019 and even shifting the time to June/July to make it more attractive to broadcasters and sponsors.
The planned 2019 debut was cancelled due to the pandemic, but in 2025 the 21st edition (first with so many teams) will take place in the United States.
How it will work
Some things are certain: for example, that 32 teams will participate and that they will be divided into four groups of eight. The top two from each group will go on to play in the round of 16, in knockout matches.
The tournament will have a four-yearly frequency like the normal World Cup too. There are 12 spots available to UEFA (European sides) and the four winners of the last Champions League have qualified by right.
Manchester City, Real Madrid and Chelsea are therefore in. The other eight European teams (no country can bring more than two clubs, the only exception is England as they already have two qualified as winners of the Champions League) are decided on the basis of ranking.
That means that for Serie A there are only two places to fight for and one is guaranteed to Inter, so now it is left to Juventus, Milan and Napoli to battle it out for the last spot.
How many points do Milan need
FIFA have not yet officially confirmed anything regarding the rankings but there are widespread reliable reports claiming that results of the last four years in Champions League matches will be taken into account.
Although Juventus are out of European competitions this season, the Bianconeri maintain an advantage over Milan and Napoli. Using the projected ranking, Juventus have amassed 47 points, while the Rossoneri are on 37 and the Partenopei on 33.
Stefano Pioli’s team have a simple equation: by winning the next two games in the group, they would overtake Juve. Alternatively, qualifying for the knockout stages and winning games in that would add points.
Napoli, on the other hand, would have to reach at least the quarter-finals to have a hope of catching Juventus.
The prize money
While it might seem like another major commitment for the players after what will be another hectic season, the financial incentive for participating in the Club World Cup is certainly inarguable.
The total prize money is around €2.5bn and an initial €2bn will be distributed among the 32 teams that book their plane tickets to the USA. Qualification therefore brings €50m as a minimum, while there will be other results-based bonuses and the winner will receive around €100m.
This is money which would add to the prize funds obtained from a potential run in the Champions League. For example, reaching the last 16 is worth €9.6m to which must be added the proceeds from the results of the current group, the historical ranking and of course ticket sales.