ZURICH: The 2023 Club World Cup will be played in Jeddah, the home city of Saudi champions Al-Ittihad that have signed Karim Benzema, FIFA said Monday.
Al-Ittihad will be joined by the six continental club champions — including Champions League winner Manchester City — for the Dec. 12-22 tournament. It will be the last edition in that format before the 32-team version launches in 2025 in the US.
FIFA said the 2023 tournament will be played at the King Abdullah Sport City Stadium and Prince Abdullah Al-Faisal Stadium. They hold about 62,000 and 27,000 spectators, respectively.
Benzema will be trying to retain the trophy he helped Real Madrid win in February, beating Saudi club Al-Hilal in the final hosted by Morocco.
FIFA picked Saudi Arabia in February to host the 2023 Club World Cup, giving the Kingdom its latest international soccer event in an aggressive push to make a bigger impact in world sports.
Al-Ittihad will open the next tournament in a first-round game against Auckland City, the Oceania champion. The winner advances to the second round, joining Leon of Mexico, Al-Ahly of Egypt and Urawa Red Diamonds of Japan.
Man City and the South American champion enter at the semifinal stage. The Copa Libertadores final is played on Nov. 4.
Each continental champion from 2021 through 2024, except in Oceania, also qualify directly for the expanded tournament in 2025.
Saudi Arabia also will host the 2027 Asian Cup and is expected to be a strong contender bidding to host the men’s 2034 World Cup.