With FIFA moving its newly expanded Club World Cup to a four-year cycle in the hope of making it equivalent to its far more established international sister competition, the move has opened a gap for an annual competition.
In place of the formerly-annual Club World Cup, a new competition is being established known as the FIFA Intercontinental Cup.
The tournament will be played each year and feature many of the same characteristics of the Club World Cup’s former iteration, with a few tweaks to its schedule, hosting and competition components.
The Sporting News details everything we know about the new FIFA Intercontinental Cup, which will debut in the winter of 2024 before the newly minted Club World Cup begins in 2025.
What is the FIFA Intercontinental Cup?
The FIFA Intercontinental Cup, officially known as the “Coupe Intercontinentale de la FIFA,” will replace the Club World Cup as the annual global club championship pitting each continent’s title winners against each another.
With the Club World Cup moving to a four-year cycle – one year before its international sister competition the FIFA World Cup – the world football governing body did not wish to lose its annual tournament, crafting a new competition to replace the one lost to expansion.
The Intercontinental Cup will pit all of the world’s continental title winners from the previous calendar year against one another in a slightly reworked single-elimination tournament.
FIFA Intercontinental Cup format
In the FIFA Intercontinental Cup, the six global continental champions from the previous calendar year will play through a single-elimination knockout tournament. This is slightly different from the old Club World Cup which featured seven participants, as there will no longer be a club from the host nation.
Unlike the current Club World Cup, where the CONMEBOL (South American) and UEFA (European) champions are given byes to the semifinals, the UEFA champion will be immediately awarded a place in the Intercontinental Cup final, against the qualifier who emerges from the earlier rounds of the competition.
The competition will be formatted as follows:
- AFC Champions League winner (Asian) OR* CAF Champions League winner (African) vs. OFC Champions League winner (Oceanic)
- Round 1 winner vs. AFC Champions League winner OR* CAF Champions League winner
- CONCACAF Champions Cup winner (Northern American, Central American and Caribbean) vs. CONMEBOL Copa Libertadores winner
- Round 2 winner vs. Round 2 winner
- Playoff winner vs. UEFA Champions League winner
* The AFC Champions League winner and CAF Champions League winner will rotate Round 1 and Round 2 qualification on an annual basis.
When is the 2024 FIFA Intercontinental Cup?
Just like the original iteration of the Club World Cup before it, the Intercontinental Cup will take place in December 2024.
The final will be on December 18, 2024, with the playoff match on December 14.
The first two rounds will be played before that on yet-to-be-determined dates, with FIFA saying: “The first stages will be scheduled by FIFA in consultation with the clubs and the confederations.”
Who will host the FIFA Intercontinental Cup?
The playoff round and final of the FIFA Intercontinental Cup will be hosted by a neutral venue, yet to be determined for the 2024 edition of the competition.
The earlier rounds will be hosted by one of the participants. The Round 1 match will be hosted by the AFC or CAF participant.
In Round 2, the AFC or CAF participant with the bye will host their fixture, while the other end of Round 2 will see hosting duties alternate between CONCACAF and CONMEBOL each year.