AFC to expand Women’s Asian Cup, Champions League

The confederation decides to further invest in the two competitions in its executive committee meeting of the 2019-2023 cycle.

From 2021, the AFC Champions League will be expanded to 40 clubs. Representative Image: Getty Images

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) will mark the start of a new era of national and club team competitions by further investing in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup and the AFC Champions League.

At the second AFC Executive Committee meeting of the 2019-2023 cycle, it was decided to grow the two competitions. The meeting was chaired by longest-serving AFC vice-president and FIFA Council member, Saoud Al Mohannadi, in the absence of president Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa.

From the 2021 season, the AFC Champions League will be expanded to 40 clubs with an extra group of four being added in both the East and West zones. The aim is to further grow the reputation of one of the richest continental club competitions in the world. This expansion will take place without any change to the existing slots for the top six Member Associations.

Read | AFC Cup final moved from Pyongyang to Shanghai

In 2022, there will be four more teams in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup — going from eight in the last edition in Jordan to 12 in the next tournament. At present, the AFC has proposals from Chinese Taipei, India and Uzbekistan to host the tournament and with the added four teams, there will be further opportunities for more players, teams and Members Associations.

In his message to the committee, delivered by Saoud Al Mohannadi, the AFC president said: “As you know we have always looked to grow the women’s game in Asia with new initiatives and that has been rewarded by world champions in FIFA competitions at every level. We were the first confederation to have at least five women Executive Committee Members and one of the few to appoint a woman referee to men’s competitions in the AFC Cup.

“And one of our Executive Members, Kanya Keomany, will be the first female match commissioner to be appointed for a men’s club competition final — the AFC Cup final at the start of next month.

'Perfect time'

“The start of the new commercial cycle, with our exclusive partners, DDMC Fortis, is the perfect time to launch this new era in Asian football. It will be an era of excellence and inclusiveness.”

The Executive Committee asked the administration to develop the new competitions and also, in the continued delivery of good governance, to review and recommend updates to the AFC Statutes.

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