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FIFA Club World Cup

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Atletico Nacional from Colombia win the 2016 Copa Libertadores 2–1 on aggregate vs Independiente del Valle (Ecuador). This is Atletico Nacional's second Copa Libertadores after their 1989 title. They will now participate in the Club World Cup with an automatic berth to the semi-final.

The CAF Champions League will be decided between 21–23 October, the AFC CL on 26 November and the J-League on 3 December.

Big Pete 65
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7 December 6 am NZT: Auckland City vs. Al-Jazira (UAE champions)

10 December 5.30 am NZT Quarter-final: winner vs. AFC champs (to be decided on 26 November NZT with final of AFC Champions League between Urawa Red Diamonds and Al-Hilal)

13 December NZT: Loser of above quarter-final vs. loser of other quarter-final

14 December Semi-final: winner of 10 December quarter-final vs. Real Madrid

17 December 3rd/4th play-off: loser of semis vs. loser of other semi

17 December: Final

Auckland's opponents Al-Jazira (UAE):

Only four imports in the first team squad (rest are local UAE players)

Star player is former French international midfielder Lassana Diarra ex. Real Madrid, Arsenal and Chelsea:

34 caps for France - unlucky to miss Euro 2016 due to injury after being named in the squad.

Also: Romarinho, Brazilian striker who won Copa Libertadores and Club World Cup with Corinthians in 2012

Mbark Bousssoufa, Moroccan international midfielder/ left winger born in Holland and an Ajax youth product, three time Belgian footballer of the year with Anderlecht and Gent.

Sardor Rashidov: Uzbekistan international striker.

Big Pete 65, Christchurch

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FIFA Council meeting, scheduled to take place in Miami from 14 to 15 March 2019. Circle these dates on your calendar.

The proposal to expand the 2022 World Cup in Qatar (pop 300,000) to 48 countries from the present 32 is very real, albeit a stupid one.

It is ridiculous that it is even being debated. The world’s most watched single sports event has already been moved to a November/December timeslot on account of scorching June/July heat in Qatar. It already means a disruption of domestic leagues around the world that may take years to rebalance.

What’s more, the plan is to play the competition over 28 days rather than the normal 31. FIFA president Infantino has floated the idea of other countries hosting group games but the idea reeks of a play for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The qualifying draws for each Confederation is set for July 2019 and there is the presidential election in June so someone needs to make a decision early next year and in order to provide certainty to fans, broadcasters, and planners.

FIFA's deputy secretary general Zvonimir Boban has drawn the short straw and is heading up a task force studying FIFA’s competitions – specifically, the Club World Cup and a proposed Global Nations League. It is the business equivalent of a hospital pass from Infantino.

These competitions are two red-hot potatoes given that for the first time there is a proposal that could see one or both the tournaments “privatized”, or at least partly so.

An Asian investment group is pitching a $25b deal covering a 12-year cycle and 49% ownership. The Club World Cup could expand to 24 teams while the Nations League would conclude with an eight-country final every two years.

The task force consists of members appointed by the six continental confederations, and FIFA has committed to “consulting” with clubs, players and leagues. The findings of the task force are to be presented to the FIFA Council meeting in Miami in March.

The decision as to the number of countries playing in Qatar in 2022 and the findings of the task force are laden with political considerations. It will require a few deft touches by FIFA President Gianni Infantino given that he faces an election in Paris on June 5 at the 69th FIFA Congress.

Infantino has served less than the normal 4-year term on account of Sepp Blatter’s shock resignation after winning the 2015 election. Infantino, announced his intention in June of 2018 to seek re-election and so far, no challengers have emerged.

That could change if any of these hot-potato issues are mishandled.

Some big recommendations to be made or not, that will affect NZ football.

  • If is recommended that CWC moves to a 4 year cycle, what do ACFC do? Happy just to continue to dominate the Handy Prem? Winning the OFC Champions League lets face it will mean squat, without the annual carrot of the CWC. Do they consider being part of a possible Auckland A League bid? Or even a bid to be in a planned A League 2nd division (semi pro?) as a starting point?
  • If the Global Nations League is recommended (with the Confederations Cup cancelled), is AFC (Asia) then effectively forced to start an AFC Nations League? At the moment UEFA, CAF (Africa) & CONCACAF have each started a Nations League. Leaving only AFC & CONEMBOL without. IF AFC start a Nations League, do they include OFC Nations with maybe some 'persuasion' from FIFA? ie will the AWs then suddenly become part of a regular series of international matches in a AFC/OFC Nations League?
  • Will Qatar 2022 be expanded to 48 teams, so thereby giving OFC an automatic qualifying spot?

I'd prefer more meaningful AWs games as part of an AFC/OFC Nations League, that included pro/rel between divisions, plus the World Cup to stay at 32 teams - preserving it's quality status and being the pinnacle. Not some bloated easy to qualify thing. 

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