KEIR RADNEDGE COMMENTARY: The governing council of FIFA has decided that the inaugural Women’s Club World Cup should be staged in January-February of 2026 and that the 16-team tournament will be held every four years.

Gianni Infantino, Swiss president of football’s international governing body, had first proposed the Women’s Club World Cup in May 2021. The scheduling has been devised to allow leading European clubs to face rivals from the United States’ National Women’s Soccer League.

Council also approved a new women’s international match calendar for 2026-29 with what it described as providing “more opportunities for rest and recovery for players throughout the calendar, with a reduction in the number of windows from six to five facilitating less disruption to domestic leagues and reduced travel.”

FIFA Council in action under president Gianni Infantino

All council’s decisions are expected to be approved by congress in Bangkok on Friday. Congress will also vote on the host of the 2027 Women’s World Cup. Approved candidates are Brazil and a joint bid from Belgium, Germany and Netherlands.

They include confirmation of the appointment of Mattias Grafstrom as secretary-general. The 55-year-old Swede took over on an interim basis last October from Fatma Samoura, the only woman ever to have held the role.

Grafstrom, a long-time adviser to Infantino, said: “Football is my passion since I was born. I started playing it as a child and worked in football all my life at all different levels. There are no words to express my feelings as I accept biggest challenge of my professional life.”

FIFA Council also approved a further ‘competitions land grab’ by Qatar of the FIFA Arab Cup to which it has been granted host rights in 2025, 2029 and 2033. The Gulf state has already awarded the next five editions of the FIFA U-17 World Cup, starting from 2025.

** FIFA has set up a working group to review its rules banning the staging of regular season league games in foreign. This is to fulfil one of the terms of a settlement with the United States promotions company Relevent.