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Sunday, 2 December, 2001, 19:18 GMT
World Club Championships postponed
Africa's top clubs miss another opportunity
Overshadowed by the anticipation of the World Cup draw was a decision by Fifa to again postpone the World Club Championship which will come as another blow to Africa's leading clubs.

The huge windfall from participation in the event, which was first staged in Brazil last year, has been a major incentive for African clubs participating in continental club competition.

But earlier this year Fifa cancelled the championship in Spain at which Hearts of Oak from Ghana, the winners of the 2000 Champions League, and Zamalek, who took last year's Africa Cup Winners' Cup, were to play.

Both clubs received compensation after a major outcry but still missed out on bigger earnings that could well have secured their future for years to come.

Impossible calendar

The tournament was pushed back to 2003 and Caf announced in September that the winners of the Champions League this year, either Mamelodi Sundowns or Al Ahly, and the winners of the 2002 Champions League would go to the 2003 World Club Championship.

But on Friday, the Fifa executive committee decided to again review the future of the 16-club tournament and said it would be impossible to the host the event in 2003.

"With the coordinated international calendar taking effect as of January 1st 2002 and already four world championships scheduled for 2003 (the under-17 event in Finland, the under-20 championships in the United Arab Emirates, the women's World Cup in China and the Confederations Cup), the executive committee was of the opinion that holding the World Club Championship in the same year would be impossible in terms of timing," a statement said.

FIFA added that a working group would now be established to conduct a study into replacing the Confederations Cup in 2006 with the World Club Championship.

This year's tournament in Spain was called off after the collapse of ISL, the Swiss-based marketing group that had secured sponsorship for the tournament.

See also:

30 Nov 01 |  World Cup 2002
Fifa makes major policy shift
01 Dec 01 |  World Cup 2002
Kaizer Chiefs celebrate
21 Nov 01 |  Africa
Ahly ask for religious reprieve
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