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AFC’s 2022 Club Licensing Regulations: Here’s What’s Changed And Why

AFC Asian Cup
JonnyJonny, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Monday, 29 August 2022 By Mahajan Vasudevan Nair

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has recently released its updated Club Licensing Regulations (2022 Edition) (Regulations) which came into force on 29 July 2022. The Regulations provide all the necessary requirements to be eligible to play in all the AFC Club Competitions, including the AFC Champions League™, the AFC Cup™, the AFC Women’s Champions League and the AFC Futsal Club Championship™. Essentially, for clubs qualifying to participate in an AFC competition, they are required to obtain a license from the AFC (through their respective member association) and the requirements for the license are laid out in the Regulations.

The AFC Club Licensing Regulations is a document that explains the requirements for the good governance of a professional football club. It contains details on how to legally set up a club, how to financially manage a club and catalogs all other personnel and infrastructure facilities required for a football club to be successful in the professional football industry. 

Club licensing was introduced in Asian football more than a decade ago and since then has played a pivotal part in the rising professional standards across the club football landscape on the Continent. In the year 2012 when the system was launched in Asia there were only ten member associations participating, with 145 of the 158 applicant clubs receiving a license. However, in 2021, in the last concluded club licensing cycle, all the member associations in Asia except Yemen, Afghanistan and DPR Korea participated with 287 of the 423 applicant clubs receiving a license.

This article aims to explain:

  1. The background to the changes in the latest version of the Regulations

  2. The key changes made in the Regulations

  3. What impact could these changes have on Asian club football?

  4. What future developments in the Regulations

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Written by

Mahajan Vasudevan Nair

Mahajan Vasudevan Nair

A lawyer by trade, Mahajan Vasudevan Nair holds a Master’s Degree in Sports Administration from International Academy of Sports Science and Technology (AISTS). He is well versed in sports laws and started working in AFC since 2009.

One of the architects of club licensing in Asia, he had been involved with club licensing right from its inception in Asia. His pioneering work in club licensing including the implementation of an online tool (Club Licensing Administration System or The CLAS) has brought the Asian confederation to the forefront in terms of development of professional football. Currently he is the Head of Club Licensing at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), a post he held since 2013

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