The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has announced a revamped club soccer competition system that will see the AFC Champions League 메이저놀이터 (ACL) split into three European-like competitions and a new women’s ACL.
In a press release on Thursday, the AFC announced the changes to the AFC’s competitions from the 2024-2025 season through its Executive Committee. The meeting was held via video conference with AFC President Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa and Korea Football Association President Chung Mong-kyu.
Previously, the AFC Cup was the ACL’s successor competition. Professional teams from Kuwait, Iraq, Malaysia, India, and other countries that find it difficult to compete in the ACL could compete for the title. The relationship between the ACL and the AFC Cup was more distant than the relationship between the UEFA Champions League (UCL) and the Europa League in Europe.
Under the reorganization, the ACL will be reduced to a 24-team competition and renamed the AFC Champions League Elite (ACLE). The second tier of 32-team competition will be called the AFC Champions League 2 (ACL2). The third tier, with 20 teams, will be called the AFC Challenge League (ACGL).
The K League will also be affected by the changes. Currently, the top three teams from the K League 1 and the FA Cup winner participate in the ACL. Given the new format, it is likely that some teams will participate in the ACL2 instead of the ACLE. It’s similar to how the European big leagues have a Europa League qualifier below the UCL qualifier.
In addition, the prize pool for the ACLE will increase significantly to $12 million (KRW 16.1 billion). This is triple the $4 million prize pool for the 2023-2024 season. The runner-up prize of $6 million is also tripled. In addition, overall prize money will increase.
A Women’s AFC Champions League will be created. Having held pilot competitions in 2021 and 2022, the AFC will launch a third competition later this year. Unlike the previous competition, which was called the AFC Women’s Club Championship, this one will be called the Women’s ACL. The press release did not reveal the specific format or frequency of the competition. Instead, the AFC announced its commitment to running a women’s soccer competition, calling it “a significant step forward in creating a platform for the talented female players of our continent.”