Manchester United and Man City Club World Cup qualification explained as Real Madrid make u-turn

Kyle Walker lifts the Club World Cup trophy for Man City
-Credit: (Image: 2023 FIFA)

The FIFA Club World Cup is set for a significant expansion next year, with 32 teams participating in a grand new competition. The inaugural edition of FIFA's premier club tournament will be hosted in the USA.

The tournament will unite clubs from each of the six international confederations - AFC, CAF, Concacaf, CONMEBOL, OFC and UEFA. Previously, it only involved seven teams - one from each confederation, plus an additional team from the host confederation.

However, FIFA has announced a major enlargement to the tournament for next year, with 32 teams competing in a pre-season tournament scheduled for June and July, including Manchester City.

But what are the qualification criteria, and could Manchester United join them? MEN Sport takes a look at what it all means...

READ MORE: UEFA confirm three new Champions League clubs after Manchester United finish and FA Cup win

READ MORE: Jose Mourinho calls for UEFA intervention after Real Madrid Champions League win

How many UEFA teams participate?

UEFA will send 12 representatives to the 2025 FIFA Club World Cup. These 12 will include the winners of the past four Champions League finals - Real Madrid, Manchester City and Chelsea - as well as the highest-ranked teams from the past four years.

As Real Madrid has clinched the title twice in the last four seasons, another club will qualify through the rankings system.

How does the ranking system function?

This is also based on the last four seasons in the Champions League. Teams accumulate points based on their performances in each of the past four editions of the competition.

Points are allocated as follows:

  • 4 points for qualifying for the group stage.

  • 2 points for a victory.

  • 1 point for a draw.

  • 5 points for advancing to the round of 16.

  • 1 point for progressing to each subsequent stage of the competition.

Who else has already qualified?

Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan, Porto, Atletico Madrid, Benfica, Juventus and RB Salzburg have all secured their places in the 2025 tournament, based on their Champions League performances over the last four seasons.

Can other teams still qualify?

Interestingly, Real Madrid caused a fuss when their participation in next year's competition was thrown into question. Manager Carlo Ancelotti had hinted that the Champions League winners would reject the invitation, citing more lucrative opportunities to play elsewhere, sparking excitement that a Premier League team like Manchester United or Arsenal could take their place.

However, it was soon confirmed that Real Madrid would indeed compete. And even if they didn't, UEFA only permits two clubs from each country to participate. With Man City and Chelsea having clinched a Champions League title in the past four years, the English slots are already occupied.

Barcelona, ranked 12th, would likely have replaced Real Madrid in the tournament, as it would have been a Spanish team replacing another Spanish team.