The Seattle Sounders received a bit of a pleasant surprise on Tuesday when they learned that they had already qualified for the 2025 Club World Cup, which will be the first time the tournament takes place under its expanded format.
The 2025 tournament will be the first of what is planned to be a quadrennial event — like other senior World Cups — and will feature 32 teams. Concacaf will get four spots that will be filled by the 2021-2024 winners of its Champions League. The federation later confirmed that Monterrey (2021) and the Sounders (2022) had already earned their spots. If a team wins more than one CCL title during that time, the federation will send the next best team as determined by FIFA’s rankings (that system is still being determined). Although there is a cap of no more than two teams per country, there is an exception in case they qualify by winning their respective champions league.
“I’m super excited,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said following Tuesday’s training session. “It’s something to look forward to and I think the club earned that right to play in the new format.”
Unlike the recently concluded Club World Cup, which featured seven teams and a format that saw teams enter at three different stages, this one will feel a lot more like a traditional tournament. The 32 teams are expected to be separated into eight groups of four, which means each team will play at least three games. Presumably, the top two teams from each group will advance to a Round of 16 and then play up to four more games on the way to the final.
The tournament is going to start in June and potentially run into July, but where is very much an open question. It was not clear how or if there would be a formal bidding process to host. Previous Club World Cup hosts were effectively decided by an opaque process behind closed doors.