FIFA Club World Cup kicks off in Jeddah

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Manchester City’s head coach Pep Guardiola gestures during the English Premier League soccer match between Aston Villa and Manchester City at Villa Park in Birmingham, England. (AP )

JEDDAH, Dec 11 (KUNA): The FIFA Club World Cup is set to commence in the Saudi Red Sea city of Jeddah on Tuesday, featuring the participation of two Arab clubs alongside teams from Europe and the Americas.

As per the schedule, the Arab representation includes the Egyptian club Al-Ahli, the African league champion, and the Saudi Al-Ittihad, the championship host and winner of the Saudi Roshn League. Other contenders comprise Manchester City, the European club league champion, the Brazilian club Fluminense, the Mexican team Club Leon, the Japanese Urawa Red Diamonds, and the New Zealand squad Auckland City.

The tournament opens with a match between Al-Ittihad and Auckland. The second match on December 15 will feature the winner of the first match against Al-Ahli. On the same day, Club Leon will face Urawa. In the semi-finals, Fluminense will play against the winner of the second match, and on December 19, a match will be held between the winner of the third match and Manchester City.

The final showdown on December 22 will determine the third and fourth champions, with a total of seven matches in the tournament.

This marks the first time the kingdom hosts the tournament, reflecting significant progress in national soccer activities. The tournament’s logo draws inspiration from the traditional weaving craft, “sadu,” featuring the lavender flower color symbolizing Saudi hospitality, adorned with the tournament amulet depicting the sand cat.

Organized by FIFA, the tournament brings together winners from leagues across continents. Originally organized in 2000, it was suspended between 2001 and 2004 due to issues with FIFA, resuming in 2005. Since then, it has been an annual event, with up to 11 clubs clinching its trophy. Real Madrid leads with five titles, followed by Barcelona with three, and Brazilian club Corinthians and German club Bayern Munich with two each. Other winners include Sao Paulo, Internacional, Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, Inter Milan and AC Milan.

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