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AFC Competitions Committee reinforces commitment to build on strong restart momentum

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC)

The determination and resilience of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and its Member Associations (MAs) in ensuring the successful and safe resumption of Asian football in 2021 was praised by the AFC Competitions Committee at its fourth meeting held virtually today.

Chaired by Dr Tran Quoc Tuan, the Committee reflected on the challenges caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, while at the same time recognised the commitment of the Asian football family in enabling the AFC to remain on its path to deliver as many as six competitions in 2021, in addition to the commencement of the Asian Qualifiers – Road to QatarTM, which is a significant improvement from 2020 when the outbreak restricted the AFC to staging just two competitions.

At the same time, the Committee acknowledged and sympathised with several Participating Member Associations and Clubs, who despite their best efforts, were unable to compete in the AFC’s competitions in 2021 due to the vast uncertainties and travel restrictions caused by the pandemic.

Therefore, the Committee recognised that the withdrawals of the Australian clubs – Brisbane Roar, Melbourne FC and Sydney FC – from the AFC Champions League 2021 constituted as events of Force Majeure.

Likewise in the AFC Cup, the withdrawals of the two clubs from Macau – MUST CPK and Benfica Macau – were also recognised as events of Force Majeure as were the withdrawals of Afghanistan, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, China PR, DPR Korea and Macau from the AFC U23 Asian Cup Uzbekistan 2022TM – Qualifiers.

Meanwhile, the Committee also approved to set a lower age limit in addition to the existing upper age limit for the AFC U20 and U17 Asian Cups beginning from the 2023 edition, taking into consideration the need to ensure greater consistency with the respective FIFA age-group competitions, while protecting the wellbeing of Asia’s young players and at the same time, enabling sufficient playing opportunities.

Therefore, it was agreed that the age eligibility for the AFC U20 Asian Cup 2023 will be for players born on or after 1 January 2003 to those born on or before 31 December 2007, while the eligibility for the AFC U17 Asian Cup 2023 will be for players born on or after 1 January 2006 to those born on or before 31 December 2008.

As recommended by The International Football Association Board, the Committee also agreed to extend the implementation of the temporary amendments to Law 3, which allows teams to use up to five substitutes in matches, in all AFC Competitions to December 31, 2022.

The Committee also discussed several options regarding the current Foreign Player Quota for the AFC Champions League and the AFC Cup. While the existing 3+1 quota will continue to apply for the 2022 seasons, the Committee agreed to remove the 3+1 ceiling on the number of Foreign Players allowed for the Preliminary Registration, paving the way for any number of Foreign Players to be registered based on the domestic registration rules.

Further, the maximum number of players in the Preliminary Registration was increased from 30 to 35.

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