Have you ever dreamed what it would be like for Orlando City SC to play a Lionel Messi led Barcelona team or a Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid in the final for a cup? Well, that dream isn’t so farfetched. How, you ask? The answer is the FIFA Club World Cup. The tournament has been the pinnacle of club competition since crowning its first champion in 2000.
How To Qualify
The competition is made up of seven teams from six regional confederations from around the globe and the host nation’s club national champion. Teams from the six regional confederations must qualify for the competition by winning their respective region’s Champions League. For example, Orlando City SC would have to qualify for and win the CONCACAF (North American) Champions League in order to compete in the FIFA Club World Cup.
The tournament follows a playoff style single elimination format. The first round features the champions of the host country matched with the champions of the Oceania confederation. The winner of this match advances to the quarter final round where they are then joined by the champions from the African, Asian, and North American confederations.
The four club champions in the quarterfinal round are randomly paired and the winners of each match advance to face either the South American or European confederation champions in the semifinals. The two teams to win their semifinal matches will then play in the final with the winner being crowned the FIFA Club World Cup Champion.
Beyond winning a trophy, the competition is a tremendous opportunity for many clubs to play competitive and meaningful matches with clubs from other continents they would otherwise only face in a friendly.. The FIFA Club World Cup also provides participants with hefty cash winnings ranging from $500,000 (7th place ) to $5 million (1st place).
FC Barcelona is the competition’s current champion, defeating River Plate 3-0 in the final in December. Barcelona also stands as the competition’s most successful club to date, holding three titles. No MLS team has ever qualified for the competition, but teams have come increasingly close in recent years. Which MLS club will be the first to represent the league in the tournament? Only time will tell.