FIFA Club World Cup rescheduled

The FIFA Club World Cup has been rescheduled to February, a move that is likely to do no favours to Chelsea, the European representative, in their bid to win the trophy for the first time.

The timing also does no favours to Egyptian side Al-Ahly, who will be there on behalf of Africa, because the tournament coincides with the African Cup of Nations and they can be without a number of key players on international duty.

The tournament was provisionally due to be  played in Japan in December, but Japan decided to withdraw from hosting duties because of Covid-19 related travel restrictions. It has been moved to the UAE, and will take place between 3 and 12 of February.

That puts it in direct conflict with AFCON, the final of which in Cameroon will be played on 6 February. FIFA has already been accused of showing disrespect to African football with the revised timing.

Set to lose at least seven members to international call-ups, Al-Ahly have already lodged official complaints, requesting that the Egyptian FA, tournament organisers, FIFA, and the Confederation of African Football work to resolve the scheduling conflict.

Chelsea themselves face a fixture pile-up later in the season. They were due to lay Arsenal at home and Brighton away during the tournament, and will now have to find new dates for those matches later in the campaign, when there may already be a lot of football for them to play if they go deep in the various cup competitions as well.

They may also be without goalkeeper Édouard Mendy and midfielder Hakim Ziyech if Senegal or Morocco go far in the AFCON championship.

The draw for the Club World Cup has also been made, and Chelsea, who enter at the semi-final stage, know that they will face either Al-Hilal of Saudi Arabia, local side Al-Jazira, or Auckland City from New Zealand.

In the other semi-final, the winner of the match between Al-Ahly and CF Monterrey of Mexico will face the newly crowned South American champions, Palmeiras of Brazil. 

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