Infantino says future of Confederations Cup uncertain
KAZAN, Russia (AP) World Cup winner Germany will play South American champion Chile in the group stage of next year's Confederations Cup.
The Germans will also take on Australia and the African champion, to be determined in February, in Group B.
''It's good opportunity for some younger players but we will have a strong team,'' said Germany coach Joachim Loew, who is planning to rest some senior players.
European champion Portugal will face hosts Russia in Group A, along with Mexico and New Zealand. Russia will play New Zealand in the opening game in St. Petersburg.
''I think it's going to be a very difficult group with Russia, the host nation for the tournament, with a new coach and a lot of ambition,'' Portugal coach Fernando Santos said. ''We are not favorites but we are here to play to win.''
The tournament runs from June 17 to July 2 next year in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan and Sochi, and is a warmup event for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. It's a key test for some of the trickier areas of Russia's preparations, including the costly and much delayed 69,000-seat St. Petersburg stadium. Russian President Vladimir Putin told FIFA president Gianni Infantino on Friday that the stadium would be finished by the end of next month.
The Confederations Cup's future after 2017 is uncertain, with Infantino saying earlier Saturday that the format could be changed and ''we are putting everything on the table.''
That's because the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be held in November and December, meaning the Confederations Cup would cause severe disruption to the club calendar if held in its traditional slot a year before the bigger tournament.
Infantino said FIFA officials are discussing questions such as ''Shall we play it in June? Shall we play it in November? Shall we think about the format?''
Last year, then-FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said the 2021 tournament would be moved from Qatar and played elsewhere in Asia.
The Confederations Cup features many of the best teams in world football - with FIFA's six continental champions, plus the World Cup holder and the following year's World Cup host. But it has struggled to build a distinct identity beyond being simply a test event for a larger tournament.