Club World Cup: What's the format, who qualifies and who is taking part in 2022?

Club World Cup
(Image credit: PA)

The Club World Cup is FIFA's annual club competition to determine the best team in the world.

It's easy enough to work out who qualifies from Europe – the winners of the Champions League – but who else competes? Confusingly for a straight knockout tournament, there are seven teams participating, meaning there needs to be a little bit of trickery to make sure it all makes sense.

How do clubs qualify for the FIFA Club World Cup?

Seven teams take part in the Club World Cup each year – the six winners of each continents Champions League equivalent, plus a team from the country where that year's tournament is hosted:

What is the Club World Cup format?

The Club World Cup takes place each year within a two-week period in a single country.

It takes the form of a straight knockout tournament, with different teams entering at different stages.

First round

First is a play-off game, between the OFC Champions League winners and the host nation's league champions.

Second round

Next is the second round, featuring four teams in two matches. In this round, the winners of the play-off take part, as do the winners of the AFC Champions League, CONCACAF Champions League and the CAF Champions League.


The winners of the two quarter-finals then go into the semi-finals, playing the winners of the Copa Libertadores and the UEFA Champions League.


Then, the winners of the two semis go head-to-head to determine the winners of the Club World Cup and mantle of best club side in the world. And that's sort of it.

...But wait, there's more!

Fifth-place play-off

Ahead of the semi-finals, the two losers of the second round games go head-to-head to claim the title of fifth place.

Third-place play-off

Then, ahead of the final, the two losing sides from the semis play each other to determine third and fourth place.

Which teams are taking part in the Club World Cup 2021?

OFC representatives*: AS Pirae (Tahiti)  

United Arab Emirates league champions: Al Jazira (UAE)

AFC Champions League winners: Al Hilal (Saudi Arabia)

CONCACAF Champions League winners: Monterrey (Mexico)

CAF Champions League winners: Al Ahly (Egypt)

Copa Libertadores winners: Palmeiras (Brazil)

UEFA Champions League winners: Chelsea (England)

*The 2021 OFC Champions League was cancelled due to a number of countries closing their borders during the COVID-19 pandemic. Auckland City was initially chosen as the OFC representative, but pulled out due to a delay in New Zealand opening its borders.

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