The History

The origins of what is now the FIFA Club World Cup can be traced back to 1960 with the establishment of a two-legged play-off between the winners of the European Cup and South America’s Copa Libertadores.

From 1960 to 2004, the competition went through two formats, several controversies and genuine apathy from the European teams, but remained the globally accepted standard for anointing the world’s finest club side.

That, however, was an unofficial title, as the new competition was not sanctioned by FIFA.

The 1960 and first winners of the Intercontinental Cup title where Real Madrid CF, arguably the greatest club side of all time. 

After a goalless draw against Peñarol in Montevideo, Real Madrid CF, inspired by the magnificent Ferenc Puskas and Alfredo Di Stefano, crushed the Uruguayan champions 5-1 at home to clinch the title.

The South Americans came storming back to dominate the rest of the 1960s.

Brazil’s Santos, led by the incomparable Pele, won it twice, as did Peñarol. Racing Club, against Celtic in 1967, and Estudiantes, against Matt Busby’s Manchester United a year later, took the trophy to Argentina.


However, some violently contested matches cast a shadow over the competition with many European clubs increasingly turning their back on it.

Ajax’s “Total Football” purveyors of the early 1970s, twice declined to take part. So did Franz Beckenbauer’s Bayern Munich and Liverpool.

The competition was in need of a reboot!

In 1980, Tokyo Cup was born, though still not a FIFA-sanctioned competition, it compelled European teams to honour the fixture or face sanctions by UEFA. Until the last final in 2004, there would be no more withdrawals from the European Cup holders.

Peñarol became the first holders of the Toyota Cup when they beat Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest on at the National Stadium in Tokyo, ushering another era of South American dominance.

The following year, the Brazilian legend Zico, nicknamed “the white Pele”, orchestrated a destruction of Liverpool to give Flamengo a 3-0 win and their first title.

South America’s general dominance lasted until the Arrigo Sacchi’s legendary AC Milan followed up their two European Cup wins in 1989 and 1990 with two Toyota Cup wins, against Atletico Nacional of Colombia (1-0) and Olimpia (3-0).

In its final decade, the Toyota Cup saw Europe claim 8 out of 10 titles, with Jose Mourinho’s Porto became the last ever champions when they beat Once Caldas of Colombia on penalties in 2004.

It was not until the arrival of the new millennium that a competition that included clubs across the globe was established.

The FIFA Club World Championship took place in Brazil for the first time in the early days of the new millennium. On January 5, 2000, local teams Corinthians and Vasco da Gama were joined by Real Madrid CF, Al Nassar of Saudi Arabia, Raja Casablanca of Morocco, Necaxa of Mexico, Manchester United, and South Melbourne of Australia for the right to be called the planet’s top club side.

In the final, Corinthians beating Romario’s Vasco 4-3 on penalties after a goalless 120 minutes.

The competition took a hiatus until 2005, when it took off in earnest once it was merged with the Tokyo Cup.

The resurrected competition was held in Japan, and introduced a format that has survived to this day.

Liverpool, having completed the “Miracle of Istanbul” earlier in the year, succumbed 1-0 to Sao Paulo in the final at the International Stadium, Yokohama.

Since then, the revamped tournament, now officially the FIFA Club World Cup, has been held in Japan, Morocco and the UAE.

Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Sports City witnessed Lionel Messi and Barcelona claim the title in 2009, with Europe dominating the competition. Barcelona (three times), AC Milan, Manchester United and Bayern Munich all claimed titles.

In the last three years, Real Madrid CF have won the competition twice, including last year’s title with a 4-2 win over Kashima Antlers of Japan in Yokohama.