Tuesday 12 December 2023, 23:20

FIFA President says FIFA Club World Cup 2023™ kicks off “in the best possible way” with record crowd

  • 50,248 fans see Al Ittihad FC face Auckland City FC in Saudi Arabia to set FIFA Club World Cup™ opening-game attendance record

  • Al Ittihad thrill local fans in Jeddah and advance to second round thanks to 3-0 win

  • Gianni Infantino calls match at King Abdullah Sports City Stadium “a fantastic evening”

FIFA President Gianni Infantino said the FIFA Club World Cup 2023™ in Saudi Arabia kicked off “in the best way” as fans set a new attendance record for the competition’s opening game.

The FIFA President was among the 50,248 supporters who saw the 2022/23 Saudi Pro League winners Al Ittihad FC and Oceania Football Confederation champions Auckland City FC open the seven-team tournament in front of the biggest crowd ever for a FIFA Club World Cup™ curtain-raiser.

Given the game was played in Jeddah where Al Ittihad are based, the vast majority of the fans inside the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium left with smiles on their faces following the local team’s 3-0 win.

They could also claim a slice of football history having been part of a crowd that outstripped the previous record of 47,137 set when Al Ahly FC faced Auckland City to open the FIFA Club World Cup™ 2022 in Morocco in February this year.

“What a fantastic evening here in Jeddah! The reception for the first-ever FIFA Club World Cup in Saudi Arabia has been fantastic, recording the competition’s highest attendance ever for an opening game,” said Mr Infantino inside the stadium amid the post-game celebrations.

“Congratulations to Al Ittihad and Auckland City for an entertaining game and thank you to everyone here for starting this competition in the best possible way. I am confident we will continue to unite the world from this beautiful country as we crown the new club champion of the world.”

Al Ittihad now progress to play Al Ahly, the reigning African champions, on 15 December for a place in the semi-finals.