InsiderSport: On The Ball – China to host 2021 FIFA Club World Cup

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This week’s OTB reports on the latest MLS expansion franchise, FIFA’s Club World Cup announcement and Amazon’s latest fly-on-the-wall documentary featuring Tottenham Hotspur. 


FIFA awards hosting rights of the 2021 Club World Cup to China

China PR has been confirmed by FIFA as the hosts of the 2021 FIFA Club World Cup following a vote by the FIFA Council in Shanghai.

The future format of the tournament remains relatively uncertain, this edition of the competition penned in as the first of the tournament’s new era, after consultations and considerations be finalised between FIFA and the six confederations

Specific stadia and venues for the tournament, which will take place in June and July of 2021, are yet to be decided by FIFA and the Chinese FA.

World football’s governing body also confirmed it would invest $1bn in women’s football over the course of the 2019-2022 cycle, as a result of an agreement on extra dedicated funding in the amount of USD 500 million. 

This amount will be taken from FIFA’s reserves as an addition to the $500m already approved by the FIFA Congress to be invested in women’s football as per the budget of the current four-year cycle.

Bidding to host the FIFA World Cup 2030 is highly competitive, with the UK joining the Spain and Portugal in competition for the tournament, as well as a sentimental bid from a South Americanm coalition of Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Chile.  

Issuing this update, FIFA revealed that it will hold voting for where the tournament will be hosted in 2024, the tournament will follow on from the 2026 World Cup, which will take place in The USA, Canada and Mexico. 

The next time world football’s governing embarks upon an integral vote, it will be to decide the home of the 2023 Women’s World Cup, hoping to build on the significant growth of the game and its increased engagement at the France 2019 tournament, a total of eight countries are aiming to host in 2023. 

The countries that have outlined ambitions of hosting the tournament are, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa and South Korea. 

MLS unveils Sacramento as the home of the 29th expansion franchise

Sacramento’s United Soccer League (USL) team, Sacramento Republic FC, has been unveiled by Major League Soccer (MLS) as the league’s 29th expansion franchise. 

As part of the side’s expansion into the league, the Republic will pay a $200 million expansion fee to join in 2022 – a figure which the Sacramento Bee has reported is part of a $500m to $600m investment that owner Ron Burkle is expected to bring to the club. 

Burkle commented on the news: “Sacramento’s selection by Major League Soccer for an expansion team is a victory to be celebrated by everyone in our community. This has been a true team effort between the amazing soccer fans of the Sacramento region along with Mayor Steinberg and City Council, our partners and corporate leaders. The relationship between Sacramento and our club already is a special one, and I’m committed to deepening that connection for years to come.”

The announcement of the expansion slot ends the city’s long wait to enter the MLS as Sacramento has been attempting to secure an expansion into the league since 2015. 

MLS commissioner, Don Garber added: “Major League Soccer continues to grow throughout North America and we are so proud to welcome Sacramento as our newest team. For many years, soccer fans in Sacramento have passionately supported Republic FC and shown that the club deserves to be competing at the highest level.”

The club’s most recent attempt to secure an expansion saw them overlooked in 2017 due to financial concerns, however, since then it has received the financial backing of Burkle, who is part-owner of the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Pittsburgh Penguins, as well as Matt Alvarez, which has seemingly put an end to any concerns surrounding the clubs funding.

Tottenham Hotspur set to be the focus of Amazon’s latest ‘All or Nothing’ docuseries

Amazon has confirmed that the latest edition of its ‘All or Nothing’ docuseries will focus on English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur. 

The episodic series will offer viewers behind-the-scenes access throughout the club’s 2019/20 season and will grant a unique insight into the daily workings of a football club by following the team inside its training facilities, its new stadium in North London, as well as away from the field of play.

Aidan Mullally, Tottenham Hotspur’s Head of Business Development, commented on the announcement: “This is an exciting time to be a part of our football club and Amazon will be joining us on this journey during the current season. From showcasing the emotions we experience in the lead up to and at every game, to the efforts we are making to drive real change in our home of Tottenham, to our key partnership with the NFL, we are excited to share our unique story.”

Regarding the series’ off pitch insight, viewers will be guided through some of the club’s unique focuses which include its extensive work in helping to transform the local area. Moreover, the docuseries will also showcase the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and its ground-breaking multi-use functionality which allows for the hosting of Premier League fixtures as well as other major sporting events such as NFL London.

Georgia Brown, Director of European Originals at Amazon Studios, added: “We are delighted to be embarking on this journey with Tottenham Hotspur and delivering another extraordinary look at one of the most exciting teams in the Premier League. All or Nothing has become a franchise defined by true quality and unprecedented access, and that will be no different with this series. We can’t wait for Prime members worldwide to again experience the highs and lows of a world-class team in the greatest football league on earth.”

The North London side joins a plethora of clubs that have taken part in a fly-on-the-wall documentary series, joining the likes of Borussia Dortmund, Leeds United and Manchester City on Amazon as well as Sunderland AFC on Netflix.

2023 Women’s World Cup set for bonus increase

FIFA is reportedly set to increase the bonus payments given to players at the next Women’s World Cup in 2023.

The move comes after FIFA president Gianni Infantino promised to increase the originally-planned prize fund for the tournament, with it being raised from this year’s total of $15m to up to $60m along with the size of the tournament itself increasing from 24 teams to 32. 

Moreover, Football’s governing body is also considering creating a women’s World League, similar to UEFA’s Nations League, as well as a Women’s Club World Cup. 

FIFA is also set to confirm previously announced plans later on this week, when it is expected to officially unveil funding of $1bn for women’s football over the next four years, which the organisation is set to fund itself with Infantino stating: “We don’t need all this money in the Swiss banks.”

Moreover, the meeting which is taking place in Shanghai, will also see FIFA confirm the host of the expanded 24-team 2021 Club World Cup, with China seemingly being the only country under consideration.

Eight candidates are reportedly competing to become the hosts of the 2023 Women’s World Cup – Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, and a potential joint bid from North and South Korea. 

Bidding and hosting documents have now been sent out to the eight federations, with FIFA requiring their final bids by 13 December. 

The candidates will then move on to an evaluation phase set to take place in January and February 2020 before a FIFA Council vote decides the host by May – giving the winning nation three years to prepare for the expanded tournament.

Italian Football Federation extends its partnership with Rai

The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) has extended its partnership with Rai, Italy’s public service broadcaster, until the 2022 Qatar World Cup.

As part of the agreement, friendly matches involving the Italian women’s team, youth team and senior team will continue to be broadcast on the platform. 

Rai CEO Fabrizio Salini praised the ‘lasting bond’ between the pair, adding: “In these 90 years the story of the National Team has been linked with that of Rai through the values of loyalty and inclusion. The blue shirt of the National Team is also the shirt of Rai. We are really pleased and proud to have brought the women’s National Team to Rai 1, it was a natural and obligatory choice. This choice is the result of our reasoning: the women’s National Team deserved this stage. We have defeated the prejudices.”

FIGC President Gabriele Gravina underlined: “Rai is the home of the national teams. Today we are in our home. I must thank Rai and its staff, who follow us on every trip. We represent an important duo which has been able to been able to narrate the history, the periods of changes, even the disappointments of our country, but always with the strength of enthusiasm. And the numbers show it.”

He added: “When it comes to our sport, there’s not just a sporting aspect, there’s also a need to highlight the social dimension. This has been done successfully: we’ve been able to share new stories while looking at the social side of things. I need to thank Rai for how much it’s invested in women’s football, a phenomenon that has come about in no time at all.”

Following the heartbreak of Russia 2018, which saw Italy miss out on their first World Cup since 1958, the Azzurri has enjoyed a strong period already booking a place at the European Championships in 2020. The extension also aims to build on the continued and substantial growth of engagement within women’s football in Italy. 

Highlighting how the public service broadcaster is integral to the consumption of football in Italy, national team manager, Roberto Mancini added: “Rai was very much part of my youth and I believe that this pairing is perfect. I’m very happy, I hope the agreement continues for many years. It’s pleasing that the Italian public and fans are really taking to the team, we’re improving a lot. We want as many people to tune in as the amount that followed Italy vs. Argentina in 1990, when I was on the bench. That’d mean that we’d done really well.”

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