Real Madrid, the reigning Champions League winner and record 5-time FIFA Club World Cup champions, plans to boycott the 2025 tournament. The expanded 32-club tournament comes during the summer in the United States. Real Madrid, having qualified as the champion of the 2021/22 UEFA Champions League, would have been one of the highlight teams at the tournament. Yet, the club has no intention of fulfilling its spot in the competition.

Carlo Ancelotti, the manager of the club, said the tournament does not take players’ welfare into consideration. The revamped tournament format happens in the summer. It transforms the Club World Cup from a two-game competition for teams from Europe into a tournament that could last seven games. Each of those would happen in just one month. FIFA’s intention with the Club World Cup was to resemble the FIFA World Cup.

Ancelotti spoke with Il Giornale about the club’s future with the Club World Cup. He said a single match for Real Madrid in league or European play is worth more than the risk of playing in a revamped Club World Cup.

“FIFA forgets it, players and clubs will not participate in that tournament,” Ancelotti said. “A single Real Madrid match is worth 20 million and FIFA wants to give us that amount for the entire cup. Negative. Like us, other clubs will refuse the invitation.”

This comes on the back of rumors that the Premier League and LaLiga will boycott the tournament. If that were the case, Real Madrid would not compete. Yet, having the head coach of the biggest club in the world speak out against the Club World Cup shows the opposition to the tournament.

American fans to miss out on Real Madrid at the Club World Cup

Having a top club dismiss itself from the Club World Cup was bound to happen. Players and coaches have brought up the issue of a congested schedule regularly. It contributes to injuries and fatigue, as Ancelotti alluded to. These institutions are so valuable. They do not have the incentive to play in fixtures that do not have an established legacy and reward.

That seriously hampers the intrigue for American fans looking to attend games in the summer of 2025. Having Chelsea, Manchester City, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich, PSG and other top European clubs in the fray made for a great competition. Yet, many of those clubs may not participate. American supporters would not have the same drive to watch a game like Fluminense against Urawa Red Diamonds.

As it committed to this format, FIFA faces an uphill battle courting these top clubs to the tournament. FIFA wants more games at the tournament to include different sides. Regardless, the top clubs are the reason fans are going to show up or watch on TV. FIFA is still on the hunt for a media rights partner for the competition. If a service like Apple knows Real Madrid is not going to compete, the value of the rights tanks from what it could be.

Real Madrid reaffirms commitment

Despite everything Ancelotti said, Real Madrid promptly released a statement saying it will play in the 2025 Club World Cup.

“Real Madrid CF would like to announce that at no time there has been any question regarding our participation in the new Club World Cup to be organized by FIFA in the coming 2024/2025 season.”