Liverpool fans have been assured they will be allowed to have a drink if they head to Qatar to watch the Reds try to win the Club World Cup in December.
The ruling council of football’s world governing body FIFA met in Paris on Monday and approved the plan to stage the next two editions of the tournament in the Gulf state.
With Qatar hosting the 2022 World Cup in November and December that year, it represents the perfect chance for organisers to test their new stadiums in 2019 and 2020 at the same time of year.
It will also be a chance for the Muslim country to learn how to deal with thousands of thirsty western football fans, and vice-versa.
Speaking to reporters in Paris, the chairman of Qatar 2022’s organising committee Hassan Al Thawadi said: “We’re looking forward to hosting the World Cup in 2022.
“Now we’ve got the Club World Cups in 2019 and 2020, so it’s exciting times for us, and there’s no doubt the Club World Cup will be an important test event.”
Asked if fans will be allowed to drink alcohol in the dry state, Al Thawadi said: “We’ve answered that question many times but yes, everyone will be welcome, everybody will be able to enjoy the tournament.
“I’ll give you the full operational details later but I can say it will be a great learning opportunity for us, too.”
Liverpool earned the right to compete in this year’s tournament by beating Spurs in the Champions League final in Madrid on Saturday.
As per the recent editions, Jurgen Klopp’s men will be competing for the title against the champions of world football’s other five confederations and the national champions from the host country.
So far, the other qualifiers are Mexico’s Monterey, Tunisia’s Esperance and Hienghene Sport, the Oceania champions from New Caledonia. The Asian and South American champions will be decided in November.
The current Qatari champions are Al Sadd, whose manager is former Barcelona and Spain star Xavi, who recently took up the post.
As European champions, Liverpool would enter at the semi-final stage. The Reds lost 1-0 to South American champions Sao Paulo in Yokohama in the 2005 final, their only previous appearance in the competition in its current guise.
Real Madrid won last year’s Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates, beating the host nation’s Al Ain in the final.
The competition took place from December 12-22, and a similar schedule would have this year’s final finishing on Saturday, December 21.
The next two editions in Qatar will be the last before FIFA revamps the competition in 2021 by expanding it to 24 teams and holding it every fourth summer in the slot currently held by the World Cup warm-up event, the Confederations Cup.
It had been reported in some quarters FIFA was not going to bother with the Club World Cup before relaunching it in 2021, but that was never the case.
The hold-up in naming a host was caused by waiting to ensure Qatar would have two finished stadiums for this year’s tournament, as the already renovated Khalifa International Stadium in Doha is being used for the World Athletics Championships in September and will not be ready for football in December.
Confirmation this year’s Club World Cup is on means Liverpool will get the chance to add three more pieces of silverware before the year is out.
They face Premier League winners Manchester City in the Community Shield at Wembley in early August and Europa League winners Chelsea in the European Super Cup in Istanbul on August 14.
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