OPINION: The new Club World Cup is two steps forward, one step back for Oceania

Gianni Infantino
FIFA President Gianni Infantino (Photo credit: FIFA Media)

With the news that the FIFA Club World Cup would be changing in 2021, many who follow the football scene in Oceania were worried. Would Oceania lose their spot?

No, said FIFA President Gianni Infantino when he visited Oceania earlier this year. Not to worry.

“One fixed spot, not like now for the World Cup which is a half spot, but one spot for an Oceania team,” Infantino said when speaking at the OFC Congress in Auckland in March.

READ MORE: OFC guaranteed a spot at revamped Club World Cup

But according to the Associated Press, that won’t happen.

While FIFA have yet to confirm anything, they claim to have been informed of the slot allocation for the 2021 Club World Cup. Which is set to be held in China, FIFA has confirmed earlier today.

“I honestly thought Infantino was doing something good for the development of football worldwide. It doesn’t look like it right now.”

And the AP article puts forward something all too familiar for Oceania.

“Oceania is the only one of FIFA’s six confederations not guaranteed a place at the Club World Cup. To make one of the eight groups of three, the Oceania Champions League winner will face a playoff against the Chinese champions.”

Yes, it’s back! That half a spot which has haunted the OFC for years in the national team World Cup, and which was thankfully abolished with the expansion in 2026. But it has been brought back for the club teams.

What do the other confederations get, you may ask? At least three is the answer.

Here are the other allocations according to AP:

Africa: 3

Asia: 3

Europe: 8

North and Central America and Caribbean: 3

South America: 6

Host country club: 0.5

I honestly thought Infantino was doing something good for the development of football worldwide. It doesn’t look like it right now.

Europe, the continent that cares the very least about this tournament, gets eight slots. Eight!

If the AP is right, then the OFC have every right to feel lied to by the FIFA President. The quote above is evidence enough.

No half spot he said. What does it look like Oceania will get? A half spot.

“If you have a WORLD Cup, you shouldn’t leave one part of the world out of the competition proper.”

While yes, they will play A game and they are therefore part of the Club World Cup, it is nothing compared to playing an entire group stage.

Where is the logic behind giving more than half the slots to two continents (Europe and South America)? Why not take away one slot from each of them and give it to the host nation and Oceania? Where is the logic?

And you may argue that nothing really changes for Oceania. Their trips to the “old” Club World Cup (set to be played two more times), usually didn’t consist of more than a match against the hosts anyways.

But it’s about the principle.

If you have a WORLD Cup, you shouldn’t leave one part of the world out of the competition proper.

It seems they have realised that on the national team stage, but somehow take one step forward and two steps back on the club stage under Infantino.

The reward for the Oceania team, if they beat the host club, is huge. But that should never have been a hurdle they would have to jump over to begin with.

Again, FIFA have yet to confirm this as the slot allocation, so this might not be the way it ends up. But if the FIFA Club World Cup ends up like AP suggests, Oceania as a region have every right to feel cheated.

The European clubs and their European Club Association have suggested to their members that they should boycott the new Club World Cup.

Perhaps Oceania should join them?

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Author: Ola Bjerkevoll

A passion for everything football and especially in Oceania. Owner of Football in Oceania.

One thought

  1. there was nothing wrong with the old format. infantino insists on fixing that which aint’t broke. how about replacing him instead? p.s. the American girls are degrading soccer but infantino just goes along placating them. maybe Egghead should go-forget the ‘maybe’ part

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