AFC Champions League
|Founded||1967 (2002 in its current format)|
|Number of teams||32 Group Stage
|Current champions||Ulsan Hyundai (1st title)|
|Most successful club(s)||Pohang Steelers (3 titles)|
|2013 AFC Champions League|
The AFC Champions League is the premier club tournament of Asia, that is run by the Asian Football Confederation. A total of thirty-five clubs compete in the tournament; with twenty-nine clubs receiving automatic berths, will six clubs qualify via the qualifying playoffs. Since's the 2009 AFC Champions League; champions do not qualify automatically.
The most successful club in the competition; is the Pohang Steelers with the club winning a total of three titles.
Asian Champion Club Tournament Era (1967–1971) 
The competition started as the Asian Champion Club Tournament, the competition had a variety of different formats with the inaugural tournament staged as a straight forward knockout format. The two most successful clubs of this era were Hapoel Tel Aviv and Maccabi Tel Aviv. The tournament was not held after the 1971 edition for fourteen years due to; a lack of professionalism and interest.
Asian Club Championship Era (1985/86–2001/02) 
1985/86 competition marked the return of the premier club tournament rebranded the Asian Club Championship. The format would again change for time to time with a few withdrawals also seen. In 1990, the Asian Football Confederation introduced the Asian Cup Winners Cup, with the 1995 season seeing the introduction of the Asian Super Cup.
AFC Champions League Era (2002/03–present) 
- 2002/03 season
The 2002/03 season saw the Asian Club Championship, Asian Cup Winners Cup and Asian Super Cup combine to become the AFC Champions League. League and Cup Winners would qualify for the qualifying playoffs with the best eight clubs from east and west Asia progressing to the Group Stage. The inaugural winners of the AFC Champions League was Al Ain defeating BEC Tero 2-1 on aggregate. The competition would be postponed for one year due to the SARI Virus.
- 2004–2008 seasons
The tournament was re-launched in 2004 season with 28 clubs from fourteen countries. Unlike the previous year, the tournament schedule was changed from March to November. In the group stage, the 28 clubs were divided into seven groups of four on a regional basis, separating East Asian and West Asian clubs to reduce traveling costs, and played double round-robin on a home and away basis. Then, the seven group winners along with the defending champions qualified to the quarterfinals. The quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals were two-legged series, with away goals, extra time, and penalties used as tie-breakers.
The 2005 season saw Syrian clubs join the competition, thus increasing the number of participating countries to 15, and two years later, following their transfer into the AFC in 2006, Australian clubs were also included in the tournament. With lack of professionalism in Asian football, many problems still existed in the tournament, such as on field violence and late submission of the player registration. Many blamed the lack of prize money and expensive travel cost as the some of the reasons.
However, with the introduction of the FIFA World Club Championship in 2005 (now known as FIFA Club World Cup), inclusion of English media via the A-League, and two consecutive wins by Japanese sides, allowed to set up a more competitive and more professional format in 2009.
The Champions League expanded to 32 clubs and direct entry is limited to the top ten Asian leagues. Each country will receive up to 4 slots, though no more than one third of the number of teams in that country's top division, rounded downwards, depending on the strength of their league, league structure (professionalism), marketability, financial status, and other criteria set out by the AFC Pro-League committee.
The assessment criteria and ranking for participating associations will be revised by AFC every two years, with the most recent ones being approved for 2011–2012 seasons.
The prize money has been significantly increased since 2009 season and the clubs can earn some prize money even at the group stage depending on their performance. The group stage is conducted in the same manner as the previous four tournaments; this time, however, now eight group winners and eight runners-up qualify to the Round of 16, in which group-winners play host to the runners-up in a single match format, matched regionally.
The regional restriction is lifted from the further stages, though since 2010 season clubs from the same country cannot face each other in the quarterfinals unless that country has three or more representatives in the quarterfinals. The quarterfinals and the semifinals are played in two-legged series, with away goal, extra time, and penalties used as tie-breakers. The final is played as a single match at a pre-determined neutral venue.
The Competition committee meeting in 2012 marked new format changes for the 2013 edition with the Round of 16 for the first time to be played as a home and away series. Also for the first time since 2008; the Final would be played as a two legged tie.
The Asian Football Confederation made a purposal to revert the final back to a single leg and allow the best twenty-three member associations that meet the ACL Criteria. A final decision on the purposals will be made in November 2013.
Current Regulations 
Qualification to the AFC Champions League is based on the ACL Criteria; which is a modify verse of the Union of European Football Associations coefficient that determines a specific number of berths that a nation receives. The criteria measures marketability, stadia, etc. Currently only the ten best nations are eligible to compete in the competition.
AFC Final Assessment Ranking for 2013 seasons 
|Evaluation for 2013 AFC Champions League|
|Fulfills criteria (> 600 points)|
|Does not fulfill criteria, but allocated slots|
|Does not fulfill criteria, not allocated slots|
Tournament Format 
- Qualifying play-off
Six teams would play a single match on a regional basis; to determine who would progress to the Group Stage. The eliminated clubs for the AFC Champions League 2013 season would not qualify to the AFC Cup.
Changes could be made to the Qualifying Playoffs for the AFC Champions League 2014 due to the increase of teams that's excepted (only if the proposal made is pass by the Asian Football Confederation in November 2013).
- Group Stage
A total of 32 clubs are divided into 8 groups of four, based on region i.e. East Asian and South-east Asian clubs are drawn in Group E to H, while the rest are grouped in Group A to D. Each group is a double round robin, for a total of 6 matches for each team. Clubs receive 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw, and 0 points for a loss. The clubs are ranked according to points and tie breakers are in following order:
- Points earned between the clubs in question
- Goal Difference between the clubs in question
- Goals For between the clubs in question
- Goal Difference within the group
- Goals For within the group
The eight group winners and eight runners-up qualify to the Knockout Phase.
- Knockout Phase
Round-of-16, Quarterfinals, Semifinal & Final
Starting season 2013: the group winners and runners-up would play a two-legged tie to determine which club would progress to the Quarter Finals. Clubs would play each other on a regional basis. Aggregate goals decides the match winner. If the aggregate goals cannot produce a winner the away goals rule is used. If still tied the clubs play extra time, where the away goals rule still applies. If still tied after extra time, the game goes to penalties.
All 8 clubs are randomly matched; however, starting 2010 season, the clubs from same country cannot face each other in the quarter-finals. The Final for the 2013 edition would be played as a two legged fixture.
The Final is excepted to be reverted back to a single leg for the AFC Champions League 2014.
Sponsors & Promotion 
In November 2009, the AFC signed a $1 billion 8-year deal with WSG starting 2013. Most of this money will be allocated to the AFC Champions League.
Currently Nike, ING, Nikon, Panasonic and Emirates are the Offical Sponsors whilst Asahi are the Official Partners.
Starting 2014, Pro Evolutions Soccer will cover the AFC Champions League.
Prize money 
The budget for the tournament has increased from US $4 million in 2008 ($4265224 million in 2012 US dollars) to US $20 million in 2009 ($21402203 in 2012 US dollars), with the total prize pool now equalling US $14 million. The winner receives US $1.5 million in prize money plus additional winnings collected from the earlier rounds. Clubs receive a travel subsidy for each away match.
- Qualifying Playoffs
- Travel Subsidy: $20,000 (Traveling Team Only)
- Group stages
- Win: $40,000
- Draw: $20,000
- Loss: $0
- Travel subsidy: $30,000 x 3
- Round of 16
- Participation: $50,000
- Travel subsidy: $40,000
- Participation: $80,000
- Travel subsidy: $50,000
- Participation: $120,000
- Travel subsidy: $60,000
- Champions: $1.5 million
- Runners-up: $750,000
- Travel subsidy: $60,000
Participating Associations 
Asian Champions League Finals 
Asian Champion Club Tournament (1967–1972) 
|1967||Hapoel Tel Aviv
||2 – 1||Selangor FA
|1969||Maccabi Tel Aviv
||1 – 0||Yangzee FC
|1970||Taj (Esteghlal Tehran FC)
||2 – 1||Hapoel Tel Aviv
||Amjadieh Stadium, Tehran|
|1971||Maccabi Tel Aviv
1 The final was scratched and Maccabi were awarded the championship after Al-Shorta refused to play in the final for political reasons.
Asian Club Championship (1985–2002) 
1 The championship was decided in a final pool of four teams.
2 The final was scratched and Yomiuri FC were awarded the championship after Al-Hilal objected to the match officials that were chosen for the first leg and refused to participate in the final.
AFC Champions League (2002/03-present) 
- Two-leg finals (2002/03–2008)
- One leg finals (2009–2012)
|2009||Pohang Steelers||2–1||Al-Ittihad FC||National Stadium, Tokyo||25,743|
|2010||Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma||3–1||Zob Ahan FC||National Stadium, Tokyo||27,308|
|Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors||Jeonju World Cup Stadium, Jeonju||41,805|
|2012||Ulsan Hyundai||3–0||Al-Ahli SC||Ulsan Munsu Football Stadium, Ulsan||42,315|
- Two Legged Final 2013
|Year||Home team||Score||Away team||Venue||Attendance|
Participating Associations by Debut 
Asian Club Championship (included qualifying round) 
Italics are withdrawn associations.
|Year||New Entry Team(s)|
|1967||Hong Kong, Israel, Malaysia, South Korea, South Vietnam, Thailand|
|1969||India, Iran, Japan, Philippines|
|1986|| Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei, China, Jordan, Macau,
Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, North Korea, North Yemen, Oman, Pakistan,
Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Yemen, Sri Lanka, Syria, United Arab Emirates,
|1995||Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan|
AFC Champions League 
|Year||New Entry Team(s)|
|2003|| Brunei, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia,
Iran, Iraq, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait,
Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Macau, Maldives, Qatar,
Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Syria, Thailand,
Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen
Non Participating Associations 
AFC Champions League records and statistics 
By Nation 
The following table lists countries by number of winners and runner-up in AFC Champions League (Asian Club Championship also included).
|United Arab Emirates||1||1|
By Club 
The following table lists Clubs by number of winners and runner-up in AFC Champions League (Asian Club Championship also included).
All-time Top 20 AFC Champions League Clubs 
This table includes results beyond group stage of AFC Champions League through 2002/03 season, therefore
- it includes quarterfinal appearance by the defending champions during 2004 to 2008 seasons (with + appearance).
- it does not include the old Asian Club Championship
- it does not include Qualifying rounds
- As of May 1, 2013 (After Group Stage)
Best Finish Winner Runners-up Semifinals Quarterfinals Round of 16
RankClub Seasons Games W D L GF GA GD Pts W R SF QF 16 G 1 Ittihad FC 6+2 66 37 14 15 134 67 67 125 2 1 2 1 2 2 Sepahan FC 9 66 32 15 19 103 76 27 111 1 2 6 3 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 6+1 57 33 7 17 121 71 50 106 1 1 1 2 0+1 1 4 FC Pakhtakor Tashkent 11 69 31 12 26 93 88 5 105 2 1 1 7 5 Al-Hilal FC 9 59 29 15 15 96 66 30 102 1 2 2+1 3 6 Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma 5 44 28 8 8 108 47 61 92 1 1 1 1 1 7 Al-Shabab Riyadh 7 49 25 8 16 64 52 12 83 1 1 2+1 2 8 Gamba Osaka 6 45 24 8 13 101 54 47 80 1 3 2 9 FC Bunyodkor 6 50 22 14 14 66 60 6 80 2 1 2+1 10 Al Ain FC 7+1 53 21 12 20 77 73 4 75 1 1 2 4 11 Sadd Sports Club 8 51 19 14 18 68 60 8 71 1 1 6 12 Suwon Samsung Bluewings 5 39 20 10 9 67 37 30 70 1 1 1 2 13 Pohang Steelers 5 39 17 11 11 52 36 16 62 1 1 3 14 Kashima Antlers 5 32 18 7 7 75 30 45 61 1 3 1 15 Al-Ahli Jeddah 5 38 17 9 12 72 47 25 60 1 1 0+1 2 16 Adelaide United FC 4 34 16 8 10 43 29 14 56 1 1 1 1 17 Ulsan Hyundai 3 24 17 2 5 45 26 19 53 1 1 1 18 Al-Gharafa Sports Club 7 43 15 8 20 63 72 -9 53 1 0+1 5 19 Shandong Luneng Taishan F.C. 5 32 16 4 12 54 43 11 52 1 4 20 Esteghlal Tehran FC‡ 6 35 13 11 11 52 43 9 50 2+1 3
By Club Statistics 
- Australian clubs in the AFC Champions League
- Chinese clubs in the AFC Champions League
- Indonesian clubs in the AFC Champions League
- Iraqi clubs in the AFC Champions League
- Japanese clubs in the AFC Champions League
- Qatari clubs in the AFC Champions League
- South Korean clubs in the AFC Champions League
- Thai clubs in the AFC Champions League
Top scorers 
|2002–03||Hao Haidong||Dalian Shide||9|
|2004||Kim Do-Hoon||Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma||9|
|2006||Magno Alves||Gamba Osaka||9|
|2007||Mota||Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma||7|
|2008||Nantawat Thansopa||Krung Thai Bank||9|
|2010||Jose Mota||Suwon Samsung Bluewings||9|
|2011||Lee Dong-Gook||Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors||9|
|2012||Ricardo Oliveira||Al Jazira||12|
Fair Play Award 
|2010||Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma|
|2011||Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors|
See also 
- Assessment and participation criteria for 2009–2010 seasons
- Criteria for Participation in AFC Club Competitions for 2011–2012 seasons
- 2010 ACL to use country protection for quarter-final draw
- Sponsorship announcement
- Emirates Sponsorship extension
- AFC, WSG Renew Landmark Partnership
- Staff. Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2012. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved March 31, 2013.
- Massive cash boost for 2009 ACL
- AFC Champions League 2009 Regulations