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First Edition Of FIFA Women’s Club World Cup To Be Played In 2026

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Over a quarter of a century after launching the first men’s Club World Cup, the world governing body FIFA has announced its plan to launch a women’s version in 2026.

Despite fears from many leading female players about the excessive demands placed upon them to play in international tournaments, FIFA had pressed on with its proposal, first approved by the FIFA Council as a strategic principle in December 2022.

In a press release, the world governing body said its decision was made following “subsequent extensive consultation with the confederations and other stakeholders.” It further proposed that the tournament be held every four years and first played in either January or February 2026.

While in Europe, the women’s Champions League is well established, now heading towards the conclusion of its 23rd edition, in other confederations, the concept of a continental women’s club championship is less developed.

To facilitate this development, and supposedly “based on requests from the confederations to provide ample playing opportunities”, “it was further proposed that an additional FIFA women’s club competition be organised in non-FIFA Women’s Club World Cup years as from 2027.”

The men’s FIFA Club World Cup was first played in Brazil in 2000. Although Brazilian clubs won the first three editions, it has since been dominated by European clubs who have won the last eleven competitions in succession.

Previously contested by the continental champions of the six FIFA confederations plus a team from the host nation, it will be significantly expanded for the next edition to be played in the United States next year to become a 32-team competition. 12 of those teams will come from Europe, 6 from South America, 4 each from Africa, Asia and North America, 1 from Oceania and a host-nation club.

Based on that allocation, it is safe assumption that in a 16-team women’s Club World Cup, each of the largest confederations will provide at least two club sides each. However, the Asian Women’s Champions League will not officially launch until later this year.

Played as an invitational tournament since 2019, Urawa Red Diamonds of Japan are the current champions but the first official edition to begin in August will feature 12 teams from only 12 of the member nations in the Asian Football Confederation.

Similarly in North America, the CONCACAF W Champions League is yet to launch. It was announced in March that the first edition will be played from August 2024 but only seven of the confederation’s 47 member nations will be involved. In Oceania, the Women’s Champions League just concluded its second competition with Auckland United of New Zealand claiming their first title in March.

The African Women’s Champions League is more established having been launched in September 2020. A total of 37 of the continents 54 member nations entered the 2023 tournament with Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa claiming their second title in three editions last November.

Brazilian clubs have dominated the women’s version of the Copa Libertadores, the South American Champions League, which was first played in 2009. Only three of the 15 editions have been won by a club outside Brazil and three of the last five titles have been claimed by Corinthians, the most successful side in the competition’s history.

In January, Danish captain Pernille Harder spoke out against the proposals to stage a FIFA Women’s Club World Cup. When asked if she would be in favor, she replied “Nah, I don’t think so to be honest. I think it’s good that we want women’s football to develop and we want more games and all this. I think then we need also squads that have a lot of players so we can rotate all the time.”

“Also, the facilities around the teams, there are some teams that have it, some teams don’t. I think it’s important that everything goes together. The amount of games and the amount of everything around the team – the economics and all this has to go together.”

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