New FIFPRO Asia/Oceania report encourages collaboration between the AFC, clubs and players to unlock value in Asian Champions League
- The report has been produced in collaboration with leading sporting intelligence agency Twenty First Group (TFG) and represents the most comprehensive public analysis of the AFC Champions League
- The analysis, which contains extensive data and feedback from players and clubs, weighs the costs and benefits for clubs and players participating in the AFC-organised competition
- With a new competition format introduced from next season, the AFC Champions League Elite, the report suggests a new partnership between the players, clubs and Asia’s football governing body will deliver a sustainable model for all stakeholders
A new report from FIFPRO Asia/Oceania analysing the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) flagship club competition, the AFC Champions League (ACL), has delivered extensive insights into the experiences for players and clubs participating in the competition.
The report, undertaken in collaboration with leading sporting intelligence agency Twenty First Group (TFG), provides an evidence-based assessment of the ACL’s performance and examines the likely impact of reforms announced by the AFC for the 2024/25 season onwards.
Combining expert analysis, independent insights and direct feedback from players and participating clubs, the comprehensive report illustrates that much of the competition’s costs and burdens fall on clubs.
Extensive travel across a vast continent and mid-week matches contribute to players' already-rising workload, which in turn is impacting clubs’ domestic form, the report reveals. The financial subsidies provided to clubs by the AFC do not cover the costs clubs incur, particularly for long-haul away trips.
The report demonstrates the geographic, sporting, economic and workload challenges of the competition for players and clubs, and recommends the AFC establishes a genuine partnership that delivers a more sustainable model that rewards all stakeholders.
“This report analyses the merits and drawbacks of the current AFC Champions League based on various data and the results indicate that the merits do not outweigh the drawbacks for most players and clubs, making it an unsustainable system,” said FIFPRO Asia/Oceania Chairperson Takuya Yamazaki.
“However, this does not mean that the future of football in Asia is bleak. On the contrary, we believe that this economically significant region can lead a discussion for truly sustainable competition formats.”
Jerome Perlemuter, General Secretary of World Leagues Forum, which represents professional football leagues on a global level, said collaboration between all stakeholders in the Asian region would help shape and deliver sustainable competitions.
"FIFPRO’s contribution to shaping the future of Asian continental competitions is most welcome," Perlemuter said. "Sustainable football development requires confederations, leagues and players to work together with a common objective to shape high potential continental competitions in a consistent global calendar. In this context, it is important to consider economic, geographical and cultural specificities. We look forward to continuing these discussions with FIFPRO and all stakeholders."
The AFC has announced significant reforms to the competition, which will be relaunched as the AFC Champions League Elite from the 2024/25 season. This includes major changes to the number of teams, the structure of play and the hosting arrangements for the final rounds.
The AFC Champions League Elite kicks off with the preliminary rounds in July 2024, while the league stage gets under way in September. The AFC has announced increased prize money for the two finalists and tweaks to other regulations, though full details have not yet been released.
To download the report, see here.