Club World Cup Trophy - Courtesy of FIFA website
ZURICH, April 13 (Reuters) - FIFA has proposed that a revamped and enlarged version of the Club World Cup, planned to start in 2021, would include all European champions, runners-up and Europa League winners from the four seasons up to and including the year of the event.
The new tournament would be held every four years instead of annually, would feature 31 matches and would need to generate between $650 million and $1 billion in revenue to be commercially viable, according to proposals put forward in a FIFA document seen by Reuters.
Aside from the European teams, there would be four or five from South America, none or one from Oceania and two each from Asia, CONCACAF and Africa.
They would be divided into eight groups of three with the group winners progressing to the knockout stage.
The last four winners of Europe's Champions League would all qualify along with the runners-up and the previous four winners of the second-tier Europa league.
The four most recent winners of the Copa Libertadores, the South American equivalent of the Champions League, would also take part.
The document said that "it is crucial that all participating clubs are qualified based on sporting merit."
If the same team qualified more than once, a replacement would be chosen using a coefficient system.
The plan runs the risk that a team which qualifies three years ahead of the event could potentially suffer a decline in the intervening period.
In theory, a team could even be relegated in the meantime and, although that would be highly unlikely in Europe, it is a possibility in South America where teams break up very quickly.
Play-offs would be held to determine which two of the previous four African, Asian and CONCACAF champions would qualify.
The document, presented to the FIFA Council meeting in Bogota in March, said that June-July 2021 would a "suitable time" to hold the first version of the tournament.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino has said that he wants to change the format of the competition which is currently held every year with seven teams but has not given further details.
FIFA has not commented on reports by the New York Times and Financial Times this week that a consortium of investors had offered FIFA up to $25 billion to buy the rights to the tournament and a new global league for national teams.
In outlining the proposals, FIFA said "it is undeniable that the potential for a successful elite international club competition is immense in all senses."
The document added that "the tournament (Club World Cup) has yet to fulfil its full potential as a top-class international competition for clubs."
"It is FIFA's vision to build a new club competition that is exciting, dynamic, inclusive and prestigious, through which a true world club champion will be crowned," it continued.
FIFA said it would "investigate the commercial appetite for the competition" and that a gross revenue of $650 million to $1 billion "would be required to make it a successful project."
Seventy-five percent of the revenue would go to the participating teams.
Potential host nations would need a "strong appetite for football, high interest from commercial sector to invest, high growth potential for top clubs."