Real Madrid will play in expanded Club World Cup ‘with the utmost enthusiasm’

Real Madrid insist they will play in next summer’s expanded Club World Cup “with the utmost enthusiasm” after head coach Carlo Ancelotti had been quoted in the Italian media saying the Spanish side would refuse to take part.

Real qualified for the 32-team event in the United States by virtue of winning the 2022 Champions League, as they took the top European club honours for a 15th time earlier this month.

Ancelotti had been quoted as telling Italian newspaper Il Giornale that Real would refuse an invitation to participate, but took to social media platform X on Monday to say his remarks “were not interpreted in the way he intended”.

Real subsequently said in a club statement: “Real Madrid informs that at no time has its participation in the new Club World Cup, to be organised by FIFA in the next 2024-25 season, been questioned.

“Therefore, our club will play, as planned, this official competition that we face with pride and with the utmost enthusiasm to make our millions of fans around the world dream again of a new title.”

An interview with Ancelotti in Il Giornale caused a stir, with the Milan newspaper quoting the 65-year-old as saying: “Players and clubs will not participate in that tournament.

“A single Real Madrid match is worth 20 million (euros) and FIFA wants to give us that amount for the entire cup.

“Like us, other clubs will refuse the invitation.”

Ancelotti wrote on his official X account: “In my interview with Il Giornale, my words about the FIFA Club World Cup were not interpreted in the way I intended.

“Nothing could be further from my interest than to reject the possibility of playing in a tournament that I consider could be a great opportunity to continue fighting for big titles with Real Madrid.”

FIFA declined to comment when contacted by the PA news agency earlier on Monday about Ancelotti’s remarks.

The World Leagues Association – which includes the Premier League as a member – and world players’ union FIFPRO last month threatened FIFA with legal action unless the Club World Cup was rescheduled.

FIFA and its president Gianni Infantino are standing by the scheduling of the Club World Cup amid a legal threat from leagues and unions
FIFA and its president Gianni Infantino are standing by the scheduling of the Club World Cup amid a legal threat from leagues and unions (Zac Goodwin/PA)

They said in a letter to FIFA that the scheduling of the competition would cause “economic harm” to domestic leagues and would push players “beyond their limits”.

FIFA has refused to back down, saying it was “fully within its rights” to set the parameters of the competition.

The Club World Cup has the backing of the European Club Association (ECA), although Real have not been members of that organisation since the ill-fated formation of the European Super League in April 2021.