Kuala Lumpur: The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Executive Committee heralded a new era for Asian club football by unveiling the names of the three new club competitions alongside significant increases in funding for the 76 Participating Teams.
Chairing the 2nd AFC Executive Committee meeting, which was held virtually, the AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa reinforced the Confederation’s commitment to establish a more commercially viable club landscape for its Member Associations (MAs) whilst strengthening the sense of affinity with Asia’s passionate fans.
The top tier of Asian club football, which will comprise the Continent’s top 24 participating clubs, will be named the AFC Champions League Elite (ACLE), while the 32-team second tier will be known as the AFC Champions League 2 (ACL2) and the final tier, which will see 20 clubs vie for supremacy, is confirmed as the AFC Challenge League (ACGL).
Furthermore, the ACLE champions are set to be awarded a total of USD12 million, marking a substantial increase compared to the USD4 million that the eventual victors of the prestigious continental club prize will receive in the upcoming 2023/24 season.
On the other hand, the losing finalist will receive USD6 million, which represents a USD4 million increase from the forthcoming season in which the runner-up is set to pocket USD2 million. The ACL2 and ACGL will see boosts in prize funds and benefits.
The AFC Women’s Champions League will feature top-notch action, with eligible clubs from all AFC MAs receiving an invitation to participate with a financial distribution model, which will be announced, in due course, in place. The AFC has successfully organized two pilot AFC Women’s Club Championship in 2021 and 2022, with the third edition scheduled for later this year.
“Our club competitions are already amongst the best and most lucrative in Continental football, and today the AFC is embarking on a new and historic era with these forward-looking initiatives in both men’s and women’s Asian club football.” Shaikh Salman, AFC President said
“The AFC has outlined its ambitions to ensure our teams and players continue to shine through world-class competitions and a major part of this ambition is anchored on our promise to reinvest in our competitions, which is the lifeblood of development for all our Member Associations.”
“The AFC has always held the belief that we have a duty to reward success and the increase in prize money and the travel contributions in recent years created a lasting impact on our clubs and we have every faith that the strategic reforms and the new funding model will further raise the intensity, stature and quality of the Asian club game,”
“The AFC Women’s Champions League is a major step aligned with our strategy to provide a platform to showcase the talent of women players on a Continental stage and we are confident that the competition will empower women in Asian football, contributing to gender equality and breaking down societal barriers, to make a positive impact on the growth of the women’s game.”
Credit Photo : Victor Fraile / Power Sport Images for FMA