June 3 (Reuters) - FIFA has awarded Qatar hosting rights for the next two editions of the Club World Cup before the seven-team tournament is expanded in 2021, soccer’s governing body announced on Monday following its council meeting in Paris.
After Qatar hosts the final two editions of the tournament in its present format, FIFA will revamp it to include 24 teams, a move that has been opposed by the European Club Association (ECA) which has issued a boycott threat.
“Following the approval of a revamped Club World Cup with 24 teams... the FIFA council decided to award Qatar the right to host the next two editions of the tournament in its existing format in 2019 and 2020,” FIFA said in a statement.
FIFA said the competitions would serve as test events for the 2022 World Cup hosted by Qatar “since their timing — around early December — corresponds with that of the next World Cup, allowing for testing under similar climatic conditions”.
It said its administration would approach potential hosts for the expanded edition of the club tournament before making a recommendation at the next council meeting in Shanghai on Oct. 23 and 24.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino said in April that his controversial plan to expand the Club World Cup could play a key role in further developing the club game in Asia, despite European opposition.
The reconfigured Club World Cup, to be played once every four years, would feature eight clubs from Europe, six from South America, three each from Asia, Africa and CONCACAF — which covers North and Central American nations plus those in the Caribbean — and one from Oceania. (Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; editing by Clare Fallon)