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AFC Competitions Committee approve pivotal reforms

Published at :May 24, 2024 at 5:28 PM
Modified at :May 24, 2024 at 6:01 PM
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(Courtesy : AFC Media)

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The hosts of two underage AFC Asian Cup tournaments have also been revealed.

The AFC Competitions Committee underlined its determination to enhance Asian football after approving a host of key decisions in view of the strategic reforms to be introduced this year at its third meeting held in Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates.

Led by Chairperson Dr. Tran Quoc Tuan, the Committee commenced proceedings by expressing their best wishes to Al Ain FC and Yokohama F. Marinos ahead of their epic showdown in the second leg of the AFC Champions League Final at the Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium tomorrow.

At the outset, the Committee noted the enhancements required to elevate the organisational standards of the AFC U23 Asian Cup, particularly against the backdrop of the non-Olympic qualifiers’ editions. Moving forward, the Committee agreed to discontinue the non-Olympic qualifiers’ editions from 2030, and for the Competition to be organised quadrennially from 2028.

Additionally, following FIFA’s decision to organise both the men’s and women’s editions of the FIFA U-17 World Cup annually rather than biennially, the Committee also approved the new reforms to the AFC U17 Asian Cup.

In view of the expanded 48-team FIFA U-17 World Cup, where the AFC has been allocated eight slots to join the hosts of the 2025 to 2029 editions, Qatar, the Committee approved the decision to organise the Qualifiers and Finals of the AFC U17 Asian Cup annually.

The decision was taken to uphold the principles of sporting merit, ensure the progressive development of Asian youth teams through continued exposure to more competitive Continental matches whilst simplifying the hosting requirements for future hosts in line with FIFA’s approach to enhance efficiencies and sustainability.

Moving forward, the Committee agreed to the competition format principles of the AFC U17 Asian Cup starting from the 2026 edition and mandated the Administration to finalise and implement the plan subject to the entry status and the full details of the FIFA U-17 World Cup to be confirmed by FIFA.

At the same time, the Committee decided to award the hosting rights of the AFC U20 Asian Cup 2025 to the Chinese Football Association, while the AFC U17 Asian Cup 2025 has been awarded to the Saudi Arabian Football Federation.  

In view of the launch of the revamped three-tier club structure later this year, the Committee approved the 2024/25 Competition Regulations of the AFC Champions League Elite (ACL Elite), AFC Champions League Two (ACL Two), and AFC Challenge League (ACGL).

The main updates include areas such as the Technical rules, Competition system, Player registration windows and the newly introduced Homegrown player policies which can be accessed here in due course, whilst the match scheduling principles for the ACL Elite League Stage and the ACL Two Group Stage was also approved.

The Committee agreed that a specialised software-based match scheduling in compliance with the core principles centred on the format, calendar and sporting fairness will be applied whilst conditional principles will be determined and applied by the Administration at its own discretion in consideration of sporting, organisational, marketing and broadcasting matters.

Additionally, in view of the transition from the two-tier to three-tier club structure, as a general principle, it was agreed that the requirements and provisions of the AFC Champions League Final will apply to the ACL Elite Finals, whilst the current AFC Champions League (excluding Final) will be applicable for the ACL Elite (excl. Finals) as well as the ACL Two (all stages) and the AFC Cup (Group Stage and KO stage) applied to the ACGL (all stages).

Similarly, the records and statistics of the preceding AFC Club Competitions will be recognised and integrated within the revamped club competitions. The records and statistics of the AFC Champions League will be carried forward to the ACL Elite, the AFC Cup transitioned to the ACL Two, with the data from the AFC President’s Cup (discontinued after 2015) transferring to the ACGL.

The Committee also approved the calendar for the 2025/26 club season which is tabled below and mandated the Administration to adjust the calendar where necessary.

All decisions will need to be ratified by the AFC Executive Committee to take effect.

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