The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is set to host the next FIFA Club World Cup early next year, as the FIFA president Gianni Infantino announced on Wednesday.

The latest edition of the tournament, featuring the champions of the six continental Confederations, was due to be played at the end of this year in Japan before it pulled out as host because of COVID-19.

At a press conference following a FIFA Council meeting, Infantino stated: “The Club World Cup will be played in early 2022. There are no precise dates yet, but the host will be the United Arab Emirates.” 

Usually played in December, this is the second successive year in which it has been delayed, and the 2020 edition in Qatar was played in February this year.

Chelsea will be Europe’s representative after winning last season’s UEFA Champions League, while Al Ahly of Egypt is also confirmed a participant.

South America will be represented by either Palmeiras or Flamengo, with the Brazilian duo meeting in next month’s Copa Libertadores final, and Asia will be represented by either Al Hilal SFC of Saudi Arabia or Korea Republic’s Pohang Steelers.

Bayern Munich won the most recent edition of the FIFA Club World Cup, which has been held in the UAE on four previous occasions, most recently in 2018 when Real Madrid were the winners.

Also as a result of the pandemic, this deal follows the announcement that the AFC Asian Cup 2023 Qualifiers are to be played at centralised venues. The final round will be converted from the conventional home and away format to single round robin ties.

The decision was made by the AFC Executive Committee, and they stated that they took into consideration the existing challenges caused by COVID-19, while ‘prioritising the safety and wellbeing’ of all stakeholders in the lead-up to the finals of Asia’s premier men’s national team tournament.

Similar to the bidding process of all centralised AFC Competitions in 2021, the organisation claims that requirements have been put in place to ensure adherence to the highest health and safety protocols and standards, such as; minimum travel and quarantine restrictions, convenience of flight connections, the medical situation in the host country, sufficient venues and mandatory COVID-19 tests.

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