When will the Seattle Sounders Club play in the World Cup?

When will the Seattle Sounders Club play in the World Cup?

The Seattle Sounders won the Concaf Champions League on Wednesday night, beating Mexico’s Pumas 3-0 and claiming an overall 5-2 victory in the two-legged final. The victory made Seattle the first team in Major League Soccer to lift a trophy in a race, giving the United States the continental title it has dreamed of for more than 20 years.

It should also make Seattle the first MLS team to play in the FIFA Club World Cup.

Except no one, not even FIFA, is sure when that event will take place, or how it will turn out. The traditional December window of the tournament is not available due to this year’s World Cup in Qatar, and the grand plans for the expanded Club World Cup in China were immediately cut off after their announcement and then due to the Corona virus epidemic. Didn’t go anywhere after.

“No indication,” a FIFA official said in a text message when asked when Seattle could be expected to attend the event.

The Club World Cup has been held annually since 2005, in which representatives from each of the FIFA World Confederations meet face-to-face to determine the World Club Champion. Teams such as Barcelona, ​​Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Liverpool and Chelsea have dominated the top European teams in the event with trophies lifted over the past decade. Competing against teams like this in international competition has been a dream for many MLS players, executives and fans.

FIFA, the club that runs the World Cup, is eager to expand the tournament, and has come up with a plan for a 24-team tournament that is moved every summer and every four years instead of every year. Is held. At a meeting in Shanghai in October 2019, it approved the change and granted China the right to host the first edition in 2021. The corona virus soon made the plan unworkable.

The 2021 Club World Cup, delayed by epidemics and held by Chelsea in February, was a nominal final in the old, smaller format. Another could be difficult in 2022, with the league schedule already being squeezed due to a break due to the World Cup, which opens in November. There has been talk of holding an earlier expanded version in the summer of 2023, but there is no official date yet.

Under the original plans for the expanded tournament, three teams from the Concacaf region – including North and Central America and the Caribbean – will take part. One of them could be the sounders after Wednesday’s victory, although no official qualifying criteria have been announced.

It is possible that the old, smaller format will be maintained for a few more years: even the sounders’ officials were not convinced after Wednesday night’s victory.

We don’t have the format yet. We don’t have a place, “the team’s general manager, Garth Legroy, told reporters.” We’ve been told, maybe February. Maybe the Middle East. “

Despite the uncertainty, Lagerway, a longtime MLS executive, did little to hide his enthusiasm for success. “We are going to play for Real Madrid or Liverpool,” he said. “In a real game.”

Officially, FIFA will only say on Thursday that “more details about the FIFA Club World Cup 2022 will be announced in time.”

An American team has played the Club World Cup almost once before. The first Club World Cup, in 2000, was an eight-team event in Brazil. It was the last year that an American team, the Los Angeles Galaxy, won the continental championship. Therefore, for the 2001 World Cup, which was extended to 12 teams, the Galaxy was properly integrated with Real Madrid and other teams from around the world.

But due to financial concerns and the loss of sponsors, the event was canceled. It was restored to its original form in 2005. It’s too late for the galaxy. The Mexican and Costa Rican teams – to MLS’s frustration – have won titles every year since then.

Now that the Sounders have broken the deadlock, he and the MLS will hope that the Club World Cup – whenever it is held, and whatever it seems – will go smoothly.

Tariq Panja assisted in reporting.

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