Federation Internatonale de Football Association, FIFA, has declared that the Men’s and Women’s Under-17 World Cups will now be held annually, starting from 2025.

Both the tournaments have been expanded as 48 teams will participate in the men’s edition whereas, there will be 24 teams vying for glory in the women’s category.

This move marks a departure from the previous biennial schedule as it aims to provide greater opportunities for youth players to showcase their skills on the global stage by ensuring that maximum players get to perform on the biggest stage at the formative stage of their career.

FIFA released a statement that read: “Qatar will host the next five editions from 2025, with Morocco the venue for FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in the same period. The FIFA Council has confirmed that the FIFA U-17 World Cup™ will be expanded to 48 teams and be held annually rather than biennially, as part of the governing body’s steadfast commitment to youth football. It was also confirmed that the next five editions of the competition, starting in 2025, will take place in Qatar.

“Meanwhile, the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup™, which has been expanded to 24 teams and will be played annually as of 2025, will be hosted by Morocco until 2029. These decisions followed a global call for expressions of interest in hosting both competitions, with a focus on leveraging the use of existing footballing infrastructure in the interest of tournament efficiencies and sustainability.”

These decisions reflect the growing influence of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region in global football governance. Qatar successfully hosted the men’s 2022 World Cup and Morocco are set to co-host the 2030 edition. It must be noted that both countries have elected representatives on the 37-member Fifa Council. Additionally, Saudi Arabia are expected to host the men’s World Cup in 2034.

The 2024 edition of the Women’s Under-17 World Cup will be hosted by the Dominican Republic, commencing on October 16. Whereas, the previous Men’s Under-17 edition in 2023 was hosted in Indonesia after the largest archipelago nation in the world declined to host the men’s Under-20 World Cup due to geopolitical reasons.