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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 17 January 2019

Ferran Soriano says revamped Club World Cup makes sense, but players shouldn't be made to play more games

The Manchester City and City Football Group chief executive was speaking at the Dubai International Sports Conference on Wednesday

Ferran Soriano, centre, chief executive of Premier League club Manchester City, speaks during the first day of the 13th edition of the Dubai International Sports Conference in Dubai. EPA
Ferran Soriano, centre, chief executive of Premier League club Manchester City, speaks during the first day of the 13th edition of the Dubai International Sports Conference in Dubai. EPA

Ferran Soriano, the chief executive of the company that owns Manchester City, is in favour of a revamped and expanded Club World Cup – so long as players are not obliged to play any more matches than they presently do.

Real Madrid won a third successive Fifa Club World Cup when they beat Al Ain 4-1 in the final in Abu Dhabi last month.

The competition seems set to be the last one to be played in the seven-team, knockout guise, with Fifa planning to restructure the event to involve a greater number of teams and fixtures.

The game’s ruling body are considering a 24-team tournament, played every four years, possibly starting in 2021, involving up to 12 teams from Europe.

Soriano, who is the chief executive of City Football Group, which administers six clubs including English champions Manchester City, said a new global club event is “logical”.

“In principal and conceptually, having a global, worldwide club competition makes sense,” Soriano said, speaking at the Dubai International Sports Conference on Wednesday.

“Improving this format and changing it for the best seems logical. There are all sorts of political issues because the world of football is global, it is a big family, and among the members of the family there are different interests, and they have merit. [But] if we play more games, we have to take games off.

“The players cannot play more games. I know sometimes, from a fan’s perspective it seems like the life of a football player is a great life, but they work a lot. They are under a lot of pressure.

“They have, if they are lucky, four or five weeks of rest through the year. There are many other sports where players rest for two or three months.”

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Zvonimir Boban, the deputy secretary of Fifa, expects a decision on the format of the event to be made in March.

“In the initial consultation phase we made a few errors, political errors, without meaning to do so,” Boban, the former Croatia and AC Milan player, said.

“Now we are correcting everything. Fifa has an obligation and duty to think about the clubs. Fifa in the past has been accused of not thinking about the clubs.

“Now we would like to offer something to the clubs on a global stage, because they are global brands and the real families of football.”

The reshaping of the Club World Cup would mean an end to the Confederations Cup, according to Boban.

“This World Cup for the clubs is a very strange one, and we have a Confederations Cup, which should be cancelled in the case that we organise the new one,” Boban said.

“Having a quadrennial tournament, we believe will be something good for football, very entertaining, a top competition.”

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Read more on Dubai International Sports Conference:

Gianni Infantino: Fifa exploring idea of Gulf countries helping Qatar stage expanded 48-team World Cup

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Gianni Infantino, the Fifa president, said the World Cup remains the “most powerful” competition in football, and he wants the club version to be more closely aligned to it.

“Fifa today has a Club World Cup already, but it is not really anything close to what the national teams’ World Cup is,” Infantino said.

“In the Club World Cup, we should have the best players of the world participating, and they play for the best clubs.

“Clubs are multinational. Here in Dubai, everyone talks to me about Mohamed Salah. He plays for Liverpool. He is not from the Emirates, he is from Egypt, which is on another continent.

“But it shows that club football has as an impact worldwide, and I think we need to do something to ensure we have true competition.”

Updated: January 2, 2019 03:25 PM

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