AFC to start Women's Champions League, approves biggest prize purse for Asian Club football competitions

    Inam Ansari
    August14/ 2023
    Last Updated:

    AFC to start Women's Champions League

    Kuala Lumpur: The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) on Monday heralded a new era for club football in the Continent by unveiling three new club competitions, making significant increases in funding for the 76 Participating Teams, as well as announcing the introduction of the AFC Women’s Champions League.

    The three initiatives, decided by the AFC Executive Committee in its 2nd meeting held virtually on Monday which was chaired by AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, are aimed at fostering greater growth and inclusivity, and will take effect from the 2024-2025 season.

    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), the AFC informed in a release on Monday.

    "Furthermore, the ACLE champions are set to be awarded a total of USD 12 million, marking a substantial increase compared to the USD 4 million that the eventual victors of the prestigious continental club prize will receive in the upcoming 2023/24 season," the AFC release said.

    The losing finalist, on the other hand, 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. Both the ACL2 and ACGL will see boosts across the board in prize funds and benefits.

    The AFC Women’s Champions League will feature top-notch action with eligible clubs from all member associations (MAs) receiving an invitation to participate with a financial distribution model, which will be announced in due course, in place. The AFC has successfully organised two pilot AFC Women’s Club Championships in 2021 and 2022 with the third edition scheduled to take place later this year.

    Shaikh Salman said: “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."

    “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," he was quoted as saying in a release.

    “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,” added the AFC President.

    “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.”

    The latest enhancements represent a series of significant investments directed towards the growth of the AFC's flagship club competitions in recent years.

    The AFC Champions League's prize fund for the winners has more than doubled from USD$1.5 million in 2015 to USD$4 million in 2018. Similarly, the AFC Cup winners’ purse has risen almost fivefold from US$350,000 in 2015 to US$1.5 million in 2018. In 2019, the AFC also doubled the travel contributions for both competitions across all stages.

    The AFC Executive Committee also conveyed their best wishes to Australia for their FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 semifinal match against England on Wednesday, while complimenting the performance of Japan, who bowed out in the quarterfinals, and the other Asian women’s teams -– China PR, Korea Republic, Philippines and Vietnam -– at the tournament. —IANS