Karim Benzema and Antonio Rudiger of Real Madrid with the Fifa Club World Cup trophy
Real Madrid won the latest Fifa Club World Cup tournament in February. According to a statement from Spain’s La Liga, Fifa has shown a “complete disregard” for the football community with its World Cup and Club World Cup plans.
The World Football Federation announced on Tuesday that the 2026 World Cup will include 104 games, up from 64, and plans for a 32-team Club World Cup.
“Fifa continues its malpractice of making unilateral decisions on the world football calendar,” said the La Liga statement, adding it will go to the World Leagues Forum (WLF) before taking the “appropriate next steps”.
Fifpro and the Professional Footballers Association have also criticized Fifa’s plans, which were agreed to on Tuesday at its council meeting in Rwanda.
The number of participating nations will increase from 32 to 48 for the expanded 2026 World Cup, which will be held in the United States, Mexico, and Canada.
Fifa originally proposed 16 groups of three, but has now settled on 12 groups of four, followed by a new last-32 round.
The move increases the competition from 80 to 104 matches and requires teams to play eight games to win the tournament, up from seven at the 2022 World Cup.
Fifa also approved the 32-team Club World Cup access list, which will be held every four years beginning in June 2025.
According to a statement issued by La Liga: “Fifa completely disregards the significance of national championships and the football community in general.
“Fifa completely disregards the economic costs that these decisions impose on leagues around the world. Leagues were not consulted about any of the proposed changes.
“These decisions do not consider the competitive, sporting, and economic impact on national leagues, clubs, and players that will result from further cramming an already overloaded schedule. Fifa only considers a small number of clubs and players.”
La Liga stated that it would now investigate Fifa’s plans with the World League of Football, an organization that represents professional association football leagues.
The WLF criticized the announcement of a 32-team Club World Cup in December, saying it could harm the football economy and player welfare.
Player organisations and club managers have regularly voiced concerns about the demands on players, and Fifa is to set up a taskforce to look at player welfare and “principles such as mandatory rest periods”.