Club World Cup to be held in UAE in February

ZURICH (AP) – FIFA confirmed dates for the delayed 2021 Club World Cup yesterday, with the February 3-12 tournament in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) requiring Chelsea to postpone two Premier League games.

The schedule was announced hours before the tournament draw was being made in Zurich.
The seven-team lineup was completed last Saturday when Palmeiras won the Copa Libertadores.

Chelsea, the Champions League winner, and Palmeiras enter at the semifinals stage and then go on to play the final or a third-place game.

Premier League leader Chelsea had been due to play February 8 at Brighton and host Arsenal on February 12. Those games should now be rescheduled.

The tournament also includes African champion Al Ahly, Asian champion Al Hilal, CONCACAF Champions League winner Monterrey, Oceania champion Auckland City plus the host nation’s domestic title winner, Al Jazira.

The COVID-19 pandemic has twice altered plans for the 2021 Club World Cup.

It was originally to be the inaugural expanded edition in China in June and July. That launch was shelved by FIFA when the 2020 editions of the European Championship and Copa America were put back one year.

A traditional seven-team Club World Cup was to be hosted in December by Japan, which withdrew three months ago citing likely travel restrictions in the pandemic.

Players of Brazil’s Palmeiras celebrate with the trophy after beating Brazil’s Flamengo in the Copa Libertadores final football match. Palmeiras, the Copa Libertadores winners, and Chelsea, the Champions League winners, will enter at the semifinals stage of the 2021 Club World Cup and then go on to play the final or a third-place game. PHOTO: AP