FIFA U17 World Cup to be held annually, with next 5 in Qatar

The FIFA Under-17 World Cup will be held annually instead of biennially, with the next five editions from 2025 to take place in Qatar, world soccer’s governing body said on Thursday.

Like the senior men’s World Cup, the Under-17 tournament will be expanded to 48 teams, FIFA said.

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The women’s Under-17 World Cup will also be played annually from 2025, with Morocco hosting an expanded 24-team event until 2029. The 2022 edition had 16 teams.

The Under-17 World Cups have been biennial and FIFA wants annual tournaments to both ensure no age group of players misses out and accelerate development of national teams worldwide.

The last men’s Under-17 World Cup was held in 2023 with Germany winning their first title. Spain won the women’s edition in 2022.

The decisions of FIFA’s ruling council on Thursday reflect the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region’s growing influence in soccer.

Qatar hosted the men’s 2022 World Cup and Morocco will be one of six co-hosts of the 2030 edition. Both countries have elected delegates on the 37-member FIFA Council that also includes an official from Saudi Arabia, which is expected to host the men’s World Cup in 2034.

FIFA did not identify rival bidders for the hosting decisions which it said followed “a global call for expressions of interest in hosting both competitions.” They are intended to use existing venues “in the interest of tournament efficiencies and sustainability.”

FIFA also said a record $2.25 billion had been earmarked for the 2023-2026 cycle for investment in football development.

“Thanks to its solid financial governance, FIFA is well on track to exceed its budgetary target of $11 billion for the 2023-2026 cycle,” FIFA president Gianni Infantino said at the FIFA Council meeting.

FIFA said its council also agreed Thursday to propose measures to “tackle this unacceptable scourge” of racism in soccer when 211 member federations meet May 17 in Bangkok, Thailand.

Last month, Infantino called for teams to face automatic defeat if their fans displayed racist behaviour.

That congress meeting “will mark a milestone in FIFA’s ongoing efforts to fight racism with new and stricter measures to be applied worldwide in cooperation with all our member associations and the confederations,” Infantino said in a statement.

Also in Bangkok, FIFA members will pick a host for the 2027 Women’s World Cup in a contest between Brazil, a co-host bid by the United States and Mexico and a European bid by neighbors Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.

The FIFA council confirmed Thursday it “foresees that the result of each ballot and the related votes will be made public.”

Information from Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.