Having held the competition in 2009 and 2010, the UAE will once again host the FIFA Club World Cup this year between December 6 and 16, with a total of 8 matches taking place at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain’s Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium.
As champions of the UAE’s domestic Arabian Gulf League, Al Jazira of Abu Dhabi will be joined by the champions of the six confederations: UEFA’s Champions League, South America’s CONMEBOL Copa Libertadores, North America’s CONCACAF Champions League, Asia’s AFC Champions League, Africa’s CAF Champions League and Oceania’s OFC Champions League.
The UAE champions will contest a playoff match with OFC Champions League winners Auckland City FC of New Zealand, with a place in the quarter-finals at stake. There, the winner will be joined by the continental champions of Africa, Asia and North America. The superpowers from Europe and South America will then enter the competition at the semi-final stage before the final is played at Zayed Sports City Stadium on December 16.
Confirmed so far alongside Al Jazira, Auckland City FC and Real Madrid CF are North American champions CF Pachuca of Mexico who qualified by beating fellow countrymen Tigres UANL 2-1 on aggregate to retain the title they won in 2016.
While the identity of the South American, African and Asian champions will not be confirmed until November, this already promises to be one of the most high-profile FIFA Club World Cups in the competition’s history.
The like of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale, Luka Modric, Tony Kroos, Marcelo and Isco will ensure Real Madrid CF’s huge fan base in the region, as well as football lovers in general, will embrace the tournament.
Al Jazira’s UAE internationals Ali Mabkhout and Ali Khaseif, as well as rising stars Khalfan Mubarak and Ahmed Al Attas, will be calling on the loyal support of the capital club’s fans, while Auckland City FC and CF Pachuca will should see the country’s Kiwi and Mexican expatriates swelling the crowds at the 43,000-capacity Zayed Sports City Stadium and the magnificent Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium, which can host up to 23,000 football fans.
The South American representative could potentially be coming from Brazil’s Palmeiras and Flamengo, or Argentina’s River Plate and Lanus. Africa’s from Egyptian giants Al Ahly or Zamalek, which would delight the UAE’s huge Egyptian community. Finally, ASIA’s will emerge from a strong pool that includes Emirati golden boy Omar Abdulrahman’s Al Ain, Saudi’s Al Hilal and Al Ahli, Iran’s Persepolis, China’s Shanghai SIPG and Guangzhou Evergrande, and Japan’s Kawasaki Frontale and Urawa Reds.
There will be no shortage of world class teams and players contesting the 2017 FIFA Club World Cup.
UEFA Champions League
The UEFA Champions League is an annual football competition organised by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) and contested by 78 (or 79) of Europe’s top clubs. It is the considered the most prestigious club competition in the world, and the title record holders are Real Madrid CF with 12 European Cup/UEFA Champions League titles.
Winners: Real Madrid CF
About Real Madrid CF
Since getting established in 1902, Real Madrid CF have arguably grown to become the world’s most famous football club. In their iconic all-white strip, the club have played their home matches since 1947 at the 81,044-capacity Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, named after the institution’s most lauded president. Domestically Real Madrid CF have won a record 33 La Liga titles and the Copa Del Rey on 19 occasions. The club has become synonymous with the Champions League and its predecessor the European Cup, winning it a record 12 times, including the first five editions. They have also won two UEFA Cups, three UEFA Super Cups and two Fifa Club World Cups (and three Intercontinental Cup titles).
OFC Champions League
The OFC Champions League, also known as the O-League, is Oceania premier continental competition, pitting 18 of the region’s clubs against each other, with the winner entering the FIFA Club World Cup.
Winners: Auckland City FC
Based in New Zealand’s biggest city, Auckland City Football Club was established in 2004 and plays their home matches at Kiwitea Street Stadium. The club has won the ASB Premiership (as well as its predecessor, the New Zealand Football Championship) regular season seven times, and the post-season Grand Final 6 times. Auckland City FC have also won the OFC Champions League a record 9 times, including the last 7 in succession. In 2014, they reached the semi-final of the FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco, where they lost 2-1 to San Lorenzo of Argentina. They then went on to beat Mexico’s Cruz Azul to claim third place.
They have won the “treble” of domestic league title, domestic cup and OFC Champions League on 3 different occasions (2006, 2014, 2015).
CONCACAF Champions League
The CONCACAF Champions League is North America’s premier club tournament and includes 16 teams from North America, Central America and the Caribbean. The competition’s most successful club is America of Mexico with 7 wins.
Winners: CF Pachuca
About CF Pachuca
Founded in 1901, CF Pachuca it is one of the oldest football clubs in the Americas. In 1998, the club gained promotion to the Primera División, which they were a founding member of. Since then they have claimed an impressive list of titles including 6 domestic league championships and 4 CONCACAF Champions Leagues. Their 2006 Copa Sudamericana win remains the only instance of a CONCACAF team winning a CONMEBOL competition.
AFC Champions League
The AFC Champions League or Asian Champions League, is the annual continental club football competition organised by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and includes the 47 best clubs from the continent’s eastern and western zones.
CAF Champions League
The CAF Champions League is an annual club football competition run by the Confederation of African Football and involving 52 of the continents top teams. It is played across a calendar year and the record holders are Al Ahly of Egypt with eight wins.
The CONMEBOL Libertadores is an annual competition organised by the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) with 47 teams from the continent’s 10 member associations taking part.
Arabian Gulf League
The winners of the Arabian Gulf League will represent the host nation at the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017 provided that the winner of the AFC Champions League 2017 is not a Club affiliated to the UAEFA.