ZURICH (AP) — Chelsea will have to reschedule two Premier League games to play at the pandemic-delayed Club World Cup, which FIFA said Monday will be held from Feb. 3-12 in the United Arab Emirates.
The seven-team lineup for the rescheduled 2021 tournament was completed Saturday when Palmeiras won the Copa Libertadores.
Chelsea, which won the Champions League, and Palmeiras will enter at the semifinal stage and then go on to play either in the final or in the third-place game.
Premier League leader Chelsea is currently scheduled to play at Brighton on Feb. 8 and host Arsenal on Feb. 12. Those games will now have to be rescheduled.
In the semifinals, Chelsea will face one of three possible opponents: Oceania champion Auckland City, UAE champion Al Jazira or Asian champion Al Hilal. Auckland City will play Al Jazira in a preliminary round, with the winner advancing to play Al Hilal.
Palmeiras was drawn to face either African champion Al Ahly or CONCACAF Champions League winner Monterrey.
The coronavirus pandemic has twice altered plans for this year’s Club World Cup. It was originally scheduled to be the inaugural expanded edition in China in June and July. That launch was shelved by FIFA when the 2020 editions of the European Championship and Copa America were put back one year.
A traditional seven-team Club World Cup was to be hosted in December by Japan, which withdrew three months ago citing likely travel restrictions amid the pandemic.
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