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2021 FIFA Club World Cup to move due to rescheduled Euro 2020

The inaugural 24-team FIFA Club World Cup originally for next year is set to move to accommodate the rescheduled UEFA 2020 European Championship and CONMEBOL 2020 Copa America national team competitions.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino arranged a conference call taking place on Wednesday where he will recommend that the global governing body’s Bureau of the Council accept the postponement of the two continental tournaments and move the expanded 2021 Club World Cup.

The expanded club tournament was meant to take place across eight cities in China from 17th June to 4th July next year in the calendar slot traditionally reserved for the FIFA Confederations Cup national team tournament.

However, UEFA and CONMEBOL, the respective continental confederations for Europe and South America, announced on Tuesday that their flagship national team tournaments would be postponed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, that created a clash with the 2021 Club World Cup.

FIFA will now wait until ‘there is more clarity on the situation’ to decide new dates for the Club World Cup, which Infantino said could take place later in 2021, in 2022 or even 2023.

Infantino, 49, also plans to arrange discussions with the Chinese Football Association (CFA), the national soccer body, and the Chinese government to ‘minimise any negative impact’ of a postponement.

In addition, FIFA will recommend that the ruling council make a AU$17.5 million to the World Health Organisation Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund, while Infantino says the Zurich-based governing body will also discuss establishing a Global Football Assistance Fund to ‘help members of the football community affected by this crisis’.

‘The world is facing an unprecedented health challenge and clearly a global and collective response is needed,’ Infantino said in a statement.

‘Cooperation, mutual respect and understanding must be the guiding principles for all decision makers to have in mind at this crucial moment in time.

‘Particularly in football, finding appropriate and fair solutions at global level is imperative. This requires unity, solidarity and a shared sense of responsibility and we need to think of all those around the world potentially impacted by our decisions.

‘Finally, it goes without saying that FIFA will keep in regular contact with all members of the football community during this difficult period.

‘As I stated yesterday, challenging circumstances offer the opportunity for people to come together, show what they can do in a collective spirit, and emerge stronger and better prepared for the future. And this is what FIFA is aiming to do here.’

Infantino’s plans to push ahead with an expanded Club World Cup have previously created tension between FIFA and UEFA given the threat the reimagined tournament could impact the value of the UEFA Champions League.

However, those differences appear to have been put to one side as the global soccer industry attempts to implement a unified response to the coronavirus outbreak.

UEFA’s decision to postpone Euro 2020, along with the Copa America due to begin on 12th June, was taken to free up more time for Europe’s domestic soccer leagues to complete their current seasons, the majority of which have now been put on hold.

The move could yet have implications for the UEFA 2021 Women’s European Championship, which is due to get underway on 7th July next year, four days before the new date for the final of the men’s competition.

UEFA is yet to confirm the fate of the tournament, although the governing body’s president Aleksander Čeferin told the Associated Press that postponing the tournament until 2022 is “one of the possibilities” and “one of the most likely to happen”.

“We are thinking of postponing this Women’s Euro as well and Under-21 championship as well,” he said.

“We will have to postpone both because I don’t think that we should cannibalise the women’s Euro with the men’s Euro just one month before.”

Liam Watson is the Managing Editor at Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy, industry matters and technology.

Acun Medya Group secures Hull City takeover

EFL Championship side Hull City AFC has been purchased by Turkish production company Acun Medya Group, headed by Acun Ilicali.

EFL Championship side Hull City AFC has been purchased by Turkish production company Acun Medya Group, for a fee in the reported region of $37 million AUD.

Acun Ilicali, a 52-year-old businessman and owner of Acun Medya Group, was introduced to fans at the MKM Stadium prior to the club’s 2-0 win at home over Blackburn Rovers.

The takeover brings the controversial ownership of the Allam family to an end, much to the delight of fans after a roller coaster 11 years in charge.

Despite overseeing two promotions to the Premier League, an FA Cup Final and Hull’s first-ever foray into a European competition through the UEFA Europa League in 2014, the Allam family became increasingly unpopular with the fans.

The unpopularity of the Allam family is due to many different reasons, however it all started when the family proposed a name change to ‘Hull Tigers’ back in 2013. The move was ultimately blocked by authorities a year later, which frustrated the Allams and they then put the club up for sale, straining the relationship with fans and seeing a decline in attendances at home fixtures.

The new ownership will look to win back supporters and turn the negative tide.

Acun Medya Group Owner, Acun Ilicali:

“I am happy that I have fulfilled one of my biggest dreams. We are starting a beautiful journey with Hull City. We have many big dreams and goals to achieve together with our fans,” he said.

Outgoing Vice-Chairman Ehab Allam:

“During our tenure, we have worked hard to create a sustainable model and successful academy set-up, giving the club the foundations it needs for the future,” he said.

“There have been lots of ups and downs over the last 11 years or so, but we will take some very fond memories with us… We have taken a very business-led approach to running the club and I truly hope Acun can rebuild the relationship with the fanbase and also bring back the success on the pitch that fans crave and deserve.”

Hertha Berlin pushing hard for stadium upgrade

Top-flight German football club Hertha Berlin has reiterated its intention to develop a new stadium nearby to the Olympiastadion.

Top-flight German football club Hertha Berlin has reiterated its intention to develop a new stadium nearby to its current home, the Olympiastadion, releasing fresh renderings of its vision for such a project.

The club has been attempting to progress plans to develop a new home for several years and in February 2020 stated that the OlympiaPark would be the preferred location.

In November 2018, Hertha confirmed it was targeting an opening date in July 2025 for a new-look Olympiastadion, with preference to be building a completely new stadium rather than renovating the current one.

The current Olympiastadion has been home to Hertha Berlin for almost 60 years, and has a capacity of around 74,000. However, the club is seeking a more intimate stadium for its fans, as well as the inclusion of an athletics track.

Hertha’s former stadium commissioner, Klaus Teichert, withdrew an application for a decision to be made on the location for a new stadium, with Brandenburg also put forward as a potential location.

Hertha Berlin Chief Financial Officer, Ingo Schiller:

“We have entered into talks with the new government and are working hard to set the course for our new stadium in 2022,” he said.

“The stadium is the club’s most important project, especially in terms of the economic situation.”

There is a lot of political support necessary for the project to get approved, as the potential worksite currently includes residential apartments, a big reason for negotiations coming to a stall at times.

A resident spoke to local radio station rbb24:

“You talk about ir, but not with us. We are still not prepared to sell our apartments in Sportforumstraße or to negotiate about them,” they said.

“It is very unfortunate that our residents in Sportforumstraße are once again unsettled by this uncoordinated approach.”

Hertha Berlin and backers of the new stadium have been in negotiation with Berlin’s sports senator, Iris Spranger, with talks to continue over the next month.

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