China to host 24-team Club World Cup in 2021 as Fifa doubles funding for women's football

Fifa president Gianni Infantino made the announcement after a meeting in Shanghai of the Fifa Council

FIFA President Gianni Infantino attends the association's council meeting in Shanghai, China October 24, 2019.    REUTERS/Stringer ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. CHINA OUT.
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China will host the inaugural edition of the expanded 24-team Club World Cup, Fifa president Gianni Infantino said on Thursday, hailing it as a "historic decision".

Fifa's choice underlines China's growing clout in football and could be a precursor to the country eventually hosting the World Cup proper.

Infantino made the announcement after a meeting in Shanghai of the Fifa Council, the decision-making unit of football's world governing body.

It will mean many of the biggest club teams - including eight from Europe - descending on China in June-July 2021.

Infantino confirmed that China, which has made football a national priority under President Xi Jinping, had been the only candidate.

"It is a historic decision for football," he said. "It will be a competition which every person, every child and everyone who loves football is looking forward to."

The current Club World Cup features seven teams including the holders of the Uefa Champions League.

The plan for a revamped Club World Cup was approved at a Fifa Council meeting in Miami in March despite opposition from Uefa and the powerful European Club Association.

It will take place every four years and replaces the Confederations Cup, an international competition that acted as a test event for countries hosting a World Cup.

Fifa also will double the funding allocated for women's football to $1 billion (Dh3.67bn) over the next four years after the Council rubber-stamped plans already announced by Infantino.

"The Council decided to put 500 million in addition to the 500 million already budgeted," he said.

Since the Women's World Cup in France in the summer, "women's football has moved to the next level, we need to work on that, build on that", said Infantino.

China, the world's second-biggest economy, is becoming increasingly influential in football under Xi, a known fan of the game. He and Infantino met last week.

Xi and his government's stated aim is for the country of 1.4 billion to host and eventually win a World Cup. A bid for the 2030 World Cup has long been mooted.