Chelsea's bid to become world champions is facing more disruption with FIFA planning to reschedule the Club World Cup from its existing December date to a new fixture slot in 2022, sources have told ESPN.
The annual competition, contested by the champions of each continental confederation, has already been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with Japan withdrawing as host for this year's tournament which was due to be staged between Dec. 9-19 in Yokohama.
FIFA confirmed Japan's decision on Sept. 9 when, following the staging of the Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo without spectators inside event stadia, the Japanese Football Association announced it was no longer in a position to host the Club World Cup.
A new host has yet to be found to replace Japan. Sources have told ESPN that FIFA is looking at moving the competition to a date in the new year, with February the most likely option.
The 2020 Club World Cup in Qatar was also moved from December to February 2021 as a consequence of the pandemic.
Moving the competition away from December will help ease Chelsea's fixture load, with Thomas Tuchel's team already facing seven games that month, without factoring in the prospect of two more competitive fixtures in the Club World Cup.
Chelsea only have four games scheduled in February, although that number will increase if they progress in the FA Cup, Carabao Cup and Champions League.
A European club has won the last eight editions of the FIFA Club World Cup with Chelsea the last Champions League-winning team to fail to lift the trophy when they lost to Brazilian side Corinthians in Yokohama in Dec 2012.
Chelsea, African champions Al Ahly and Oceania representatives Auckland City are the only confirmed participants in this season's Club World Cup.
The champions of Asia, South America and the CONCACAF region of North and Central America have yet to be decided. The winners of the as-yet-unknown host nation's domestic league will also participate.