FIFA president Gianni Infantino has submitted his plan for a revamped version of the Club World Cup, which would feature top Premier League and European clubs and would be played on an annual basis.
Speaking earlier this year, Infantino revealed that he had met with unnamed investors who were willing to pay $12bn for four tournaments every four years from 2021 onwards. Japanese finance house Softbank is widely reported to be representing the plan’s financial backers.
These proposals will be considered at FIFA's council meeting in Rwanda on Tuesday, but the Guardian understands that UEFA are fiercely opposed to the plans, believing that the competition would be a rival to the Champions League.
It has been rumoured that a majority of the investment could come from Saudi Arabia. Infantino has met with the king of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and the Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, four times in the past year.
However, FIFA has downplayed these rumours, and any Saudi involvement would be highly controversial given the recent scandal surrounding the unlawful death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul earlier this month.
Infantino, who was first elected as FIFA president in 2016 following the corruption scandal which ousted Sepp Blatter, is up for re-election next year and has pledged to spend “more than $4bn” on football development globally by 2026.
FIFA intends to raise this money through the revamped Club World Cup and a new global Nations League, for which the investors promised $13bn over 12 years.
Real Madrid and Barcelona are among the clubs to back FIFA's new plans but strong opposition from UEFA and the ECA will be difficult obstacles to overcome.