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AFC Executive Committee outlines ambitions to further elevate elite club football

AFC Executive Committee meeting on March 30, 2022. (Photo courtesy: AFC)
AFC Executive Committee meeting on March 30, 2022. (Photo courtesy: AFC)

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC)’s determination to usher a new era of elite club football in Asia was further emphasised by the AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa at the 9th AFC Executive Committee meeting held today.

Just one month after the AFC Executive Committee approved several key strategic reforms aimed at ensuring the continued success of the AFC Club Competitions, the AFC President outlined plans to further strengthen the intensity, value, consumption and stature of elite club football – all with the aim of benefitting the AFC’s Member Associations (MAs), Participating Teams and the Continent’s passionate fans.

The AFC President said: “With increases in prize money, expansion of teams and the revamp of formats to increase intensity, few tournaments in world football have witnessed such exponential growth than the AFC’s Club Competitions in the last decade, and the recent strategic reforms are already some of the most groundbreaking in Asian football history.

“I have every confidence that these changes will lead to a new period of growth and while we have made some important enhancements, this is not enough. We are always looking to improve what we have, and we must make strategic and bold changes to elevate the status of our elite club competition.

“Therefore, I am pleased to announce that we will set up the Elite Club Competition Task Force, which will be responsible for establishing the ways in which we can transform our Elite Club Football into a more attractive stage to improve technical performance, drive commercial value and excite investors to elevate our club competitions to the next level.”

The AFC President also reflected on the exceptional strides undertaken by the Asian football family in building on the strong restart momentum of the AFC’s competitions, particularly against the backdrop of the challenges caused by the new Omicron variant in recent months.

Shaikh Salman added: “So much has happened since our last meeting four months ago but the AFC, as we have done in the past, proceeded with cautious confidence and not for the first time, we showed the world that Asian football was built on solid foundations which has allowed us to chart our recovery.

“We successfully completed every competition that we set out to deliver – thanks to the same strength and unity showcased by our MAs and Regional Associations (RAs) well-admired throughout this pandemic.

“At the same time, despite the pandemic and new variants raging on, we have confirmed the host MAs for all our competitions, which places the AFC in the best possible position to deliver another successful 2022.”

Recognising the accomplishments off the pitch, which include the completion of the AFC Member Associations and Regional Associations General Secretaries’ Conference 2022 and the inaugural AFC Football Management Certificate programme, the AFC Executive Committee also acknowledged the Development, Referees and Technical programmes that continue to leave a lasting impact across the Confederation’s MAs and RAs.

Shaikh Salman concluded: “The AFC’s commitment to raise the standards of the Asian game for our MAs and RAs to usher new heights of success, to build a better and brighter future is stronger than ever and it is a future that holds great promise for the AFC and its members.”

The highlights of the 9th AFC Executive Committee meeting are:

• The AFC Executive Committee agreed to establish the Elite Club Competition Task Force which will comprise members from Football Australia, Chinese Football Association, Japan Football Association and the Korea Football Association in the East region.

• At the same time, the West region will be represented by members from the Qatar Football Association, Saudi Arabian Football Federation, the United Arab Emirates Football Association and the Uzbekistan Football Association.

• The Elite Club Competition Task Force will report its proposals and recommendations to the AFC Competitions Committee and subsequently to the Executive Committee in the coming months.

• The AFC Executive Committee also ratified the AFC Futsal & Beach Soccer Committee’s recent decision to amend the Competition Regulations of the AFC Futsal Asian Cup 2022 and AFC Futsal Club Championship 2022.

• The AFC Executive Committee also approved certain proposed amendments to the AFC Statutes, which will now be presented to the AFC’s members for approval at the upcoming 32nd AFC Congress on May 18, 2022.