Wednesday 05 June 2024, 12:00

Salzburg’s FIFA Club World Cup™ qualification typifies Austria’s recent rise

  • FC Salzburg qualified for FIFA Club World Cup in April

  • Lowest-ranked European side to qualify

  • Austrian football on the rise

In April, FC Salzburg became the twelfth and final European team to secure a place at the FIFA Club World Cup™ in the USA (15 June to 13 July 2025), giving them a chance for previously unheard of global exposure.

The Austrians qualified for the inaugural 32-team FIFA Club World Cup via the UEFA rankings pathway following Arsenal FC's elimination from the UEFA Champions League.

They have never appeared at a FIFA Club World Cup before.

"We are delighted," Chief Executive Officer Stephan Reiter told FIFA. "We have been continuously represented in the Champions League in recent years, have regularly faced the really big European clubs there and have shown that we can also challenge big opponents time and time again. The Club World Cup is now the reward for the hard and determined work of the entire club.

“We look forward to seeing all the successful teams that have made it this far. It would be exciting to play against a club from another continent in a competitive match. We haven't experienced that yet."

Salzburg CEO Stephan Reiter (Credit: Jasmin Walter, FC Salzburg)

Just under six months ago, the Austrian national team caused a sensation when coach Ralf Rangnick's team defeated their big neighbours Germany 2-0 in front of their home crowd - just nine months before the UEFA EURO, which will kick off in Munich on 14 June.

The last 20 years have undoubtedly marked an era of dominance for FC Salzburg in Austrian football. Fourteen league titles, eight cup wins and a semi-final appearance in the UEFA Europa League in the last two decades speak for themselves. These successes are the result of strategic investments and the consistent implementation of a clear sporting philosophy.

This year, however, coach Gerhard Struber's team was defeated by Sturm Graz in the league.

"Austrian club football has developed very positively overall in recent years. We were pioneers, other clubs such as LASK, Rapid or Sturm Graz have also cut a good figure internationally in recent years. We must continue to work on this development, because other countries and clubs are also taking steps forward," said Reiter.

Former Austrian striker Marc Janko agrees: "Salzburg has made a great development and played a big part in the upswing of Austrian football as a whole."

Austria's Marc Janko celebrates after scoring a goal

The 40-year-old wore the Salzburg jersey between 2005 and 2010 and became one of the top scorers in the Austrian Bundesliga. In the 2008/09 season, he scored an impressive 39 goals in 34 league games, making him one of the most prolific goalscorers in Europe. The striker also has 70 international caps (28 goals) to his name.

There is no doubt that Austrian football is currently experiencing a new heyday. The men’s national team is currently ranked 25th in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, their highest position since 2021. And in the women’s game, Austria will make history at the upcoming FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Colombia 2024™ when their U-20 women’s national team becomes the first representatives from the country to take part in a FIFA women’s tournament at any level.

Add in Austria's upcoming UEFA EURO 2024 campaign and Salzburg’s appearance in the USA next year, and it is clear Austrian football is enjoying a strong period of prosperity.

"Participation is recognition of the continuous development of Austrian football as a whole,” said Janko.

Mundial de Clubes FIFA 25™