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Madrid, Ancelotti row back on Club WC rejection

madrid,-ancelotti-row-back-on-club-wc-rejection
Madrid, Ancelotti row back on Club WC rejection
  • Alex Kirkland

  • Rodrigo Faez

Jun 10, 2024, 09:25 AM ET

Real Madrid have denied claims that they plan to refuse to take part in FIFA’s newly expanded Club World Cup tournament next summer.

In an interview with the Italian newspaper Il Giornale, coach Carlo Ancelotti had appeared to suggest that Madrid would “refuse the invitation” to take part in the revamped 32-team competition, which is set to take place in the United States in June and July 2025.

In a club statement later on Monday, Madrid insisted that “at no time has its participation in the new Club World Cup been questioned,” while Ancelotti posted on social media that his remarks were “not interpreted in the way I intended.”

The inaugural edition of FIFA’s controversial reworked tournament is due to feature 32 teams from Africa, Asia, Europe, the Americas and Oceania.

A total of 29 of those 32 places have already been allocated. Madrid qualified by winning the 2022 and 2024 Champions Leagues.

However, speaking to Il Giornale, Ancelotti seemed to say that Madrid — along with other, unnamed clubs — were not planning to take part.

“Players and clubs won’t participate in that tournament,” Ancelotti was quoted as saying. “One single Real Madrid game is worth €20 million, and FIFA want to give us that amount for the entire competition. Negative.

“Just like us, other clubs will refuse the invitation.”

That brought a swift rebuttal from Madrid.

“Real Madrid states that at no time has its participation in the new Club World Cup which FIFA will organize in the next 2024/25 season been questioned,” the club said in a statement. “Our club will take part as planned in this official competition, which we face with pride and excitement to once again make our millions of fans around the world dream about a new trophy.”

A few minutes later, Ancelotti posted on social media, clarifying his position.

“In my Il Giornale interview, my words regarding the FIFA Club World Cup have not been interpreted in the way I intended,” he said.

“Nothing could be further from my interest than rejecting the possibility of playing in a tournament which I consider could be a great opportunity to continue fighting for big trophies with Real Madrid.”

The most recent edition of the Club World Cup, hosted by Saudi Arabia in December 2023, featured seven teams and was won by Manchester City, who beat Fluminense, 4-0, in the final.

The new format, which was first revealed in December 2022, includes 12 teams from UEFA, six from CONMEBOL, four each from Concacaf, CAF and the AFC, one from Oceania’s OFC and one from the host country.

Those teams qualify via a ‘champions pathway’ — winning their continent’s club competition — or a ‘ranking pathway’ based on previous performance. The tournament has faced criticism from domestic leagues and players’ unions, who argue that players are being overworked.

Speaking last month, FIFA president Gianni Infantino rejected those claims.

“FIFA is organising around one percent of the games of the top clubs in the world,” Infantino said.

“When it comes to the national teams, it is very similar.

“If you look at all the national team games around the world, we still have between 1 and 2 percent of the matches which are organized by FIFA. All other matches, 98 to 99 percent, are organised by other organisations.

“With this 1 or 2 percent matches that FIFA organises, FIFA is financing football all over the world… I hope that these figures will stop this futile debate.”

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