AFC Champions League

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AFC Champions League
AFC Champions League crest.png
Founded 1967 (2002 in its current format)
Region Asia (AFC)
Number of teams 32 (group stage)
47 (total)
Current champions China Guangzhou Evergrande (1st title)
Most successful club(s) South Korea Pohang Steelers (3 titles)
Website Official website
2014 AFC Champions League

The AFC Champions League is the Asian premier football club competition, run by the Asian Football Confederation. It is equivalent to the CONMEBOL Copa Libertadores and the UEFA, CAF, CONCACAF & OFC Champions League competitions.

A total of forty-seven clubs compete in the competition; twenty-eight clubs receive automatic berths, with nineteen clubs qualifying via the qualifying playoffs. Since 2009, the champions do not qualify automatically for the following year competition.

The winner of the AFC Champions League qualifies for the FIFA Club World Cup. The reigning champions of the competition are Guangzhou Evergrande. The most successful club in the competition is the Pohang Steelers with a total of three titles.

History[edit]

1967–2002: Beginnings[edit]

The competition started as the Asian Champion Club Tournament, the competition had a variety of different formats with the inaugural tournament staged as a straightforward 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.

In 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.

2002–present: Champions League era[edit]

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 first winners under the AFC Champions League name was Al Ain defeating BEC Tero 2-1 on aggregate. The competition would be postponed for one year due to the SARI Virus.

The tournament was re-launched in 2004 with 29 clubs from fourteen countries. Unlike the previous year, the tournament schedule was changed to 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 played as a two-legged format, 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. Owing to the 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.

The Champions League expanded to 32 clubs in 2009 with direct entry to the top ten Asian leagues. Each country received 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 by the AFC Pro-League committee.[1]

The assessment criteria and ranking for participating associations would be revised by AFC every two years, with the most recent ones being approved for the 2011–2012 seasons.[2]

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 was 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 was 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.

In 2013, the Asian Football Confederation made a proposal to revert the final back to a single leg and allow the best twenty-three member associations that meet the ACL Criteria to compete. A final decision on the proposals was made in November 2013.[3] On 26 November 2013, the executive committee decided to keep the Final two legs after the success of the 2013 AFC Champions League Final and expand the competition to nineteen member associations.[4]

Format[edit]

Qualification[edit]

Map of AFC countries whose teams reached the group stage of the AFC Champions League
  AFC member country that has been represented in the group stage
  AFC member country that has not been represented in the group stage
  Not an AFC member

As of 2009 edition of the tournament, the AFC Champions League has commenced with a double round-robin group stage of 32 teams, which is preceded by qualifying matches for teams that do not receive direct entry to the competition proper. Teams are also split into east and west zones to progress separately in the tournament.

The number of teams that each association enters into the AFC Champions League is determined annually through a criteria as set by the AFC Competitions Committee.[5] The criteria, which is a modified version of the UEFA coefficient, measures such thing as marketability and stadia to determine the specific number of berths that an association receives. The higher an association's ranking as determined by the criteria, the more teams represent the association in the Champions League, and the fewer qualification rounds the association's teams must compete in.

Tournament[edit]

The tournament proper begins with a group stage of 32 teams, divided into eight groups. Seeding is used whilst making the draw for this stage, whilst teams from the same country may not be drawn into groups together. Each team meets the others in its group home and away in a round-robin format. The winning team and the runners-up from each group then progress to the next round.

For this stage, the winning team from one group plays against the runners-up from another group, and teams from the same association may not be drawn against each other. From the quarter-finals onwards, the draw is entirely random, without association protection. The tournament uses the away goals rule: if the aggregate score of the two games is tied, then the team who scored more goals at their opponent's stadium advances. If still tied the clubs play extra time, where the away goals rule does not apply. If still tied after extra time, the game goes to penalties.

The group stage and Round of 16 matches are played through the first half of the year (February–May), whilst the knock-out stage there after is played during the second half of the year (August–November). The knock-out ties are played in a two-legged format, with the exception of the final. From 2014, east and west zones will be kept part until the final with no country protection rule applied.[5]

Allocation[edit]

Teams from only 19 AFC countries have reached the group stage of the AFC Champions League. The allocation of those teams by member country is listed below.

Associations Spots
2002–03 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
East Asia
Australia Australia 2 2 2 2 2 3 1 3
China China PR 2 2 2 2 2 2 4 4 4 3 4 4
Indonesia Indonesia 0 2 2 0 2 0 1 1 1 0 0 0
Japan Japan 2 2 2 2 2 3 4 4 4 4 4 4
South Korea Korea Republic 2 2 2 2 3 2 4 4 4 4 4 4
Singapore Singapore 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0
Thailand Thailand 2 2 2 0 1 2 0 0 0 1 2 1
Vietnam Vietnam 0 2 2 2 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 8 12 12 8 13 13 16 16 15 15 15 16
West Asia
Bahrain Bahrain 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
India India 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Iran Iran 2 2 2 2 1 2 4 4 4 3 3 4
Iraq Iraq 1 2 2 2 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0
Kuwait Kuwait 0 2 2 2 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0
Qatar Qatar 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 3 4 4 4
Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia 1 2 3 3 2 2 4 4 4 3 4 4
Syria Syria 0 0 2 2 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0
Turkmenistan Turkmenistan 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
United Arab Emirates UAE 1 3 2 2 2 2 4 4 4 4 4 3
Uzbekistan Uzbekistan 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 3 2 1
Total 8 17 17 17 15 16 16 16 17 17 17 16
Total
16 29 29 25 28 29 32 32 32 32 32 32

Prizes[edit]

Trophy[edit]

Prize money[edit]

The prize money for the 2014 AFC Champions League:[6]

Phase Result Travel Subsidy
Qualifying Playoffs N/A $20,000
Group stages Win: $40,000 & Draw: $20,000 $30,000
Round of 16 $50,000 $40,000
Quarter-finals $80,000 $50,000
Semi-finals $120,000 $60,000
Final Champions: $1.5 million & Runners-up: $750,000 $60,000

Sponsorship[edit]

Media coverage[edit]

The competition attracts an extensive television audience throughout Asia. The final of the tournament has been, in recent years, one of the most-watched annual sporting events in the continent. The matches are broadcast in countries with commentary provided in various languages.

Asian Champions League Finals[edit]

Asian Champion Club Tournament (1967–1972)[edit]

Season Winner Score Runner-up Venue
1967 Hapoel Tel Aviv
Israel
2 – 1 Selangor FA
Malaysia
Thailand Bangkok
1969 Maccabi Tel Aviv
Israel
1 – 0 Yangzee FC
South Korea
Thailand Bangkok
1970 Taj
Iran
2 – 1 Hapoel Tel Aviv
Israel
Iran Amjadieh Stadium, Tehran
1971 Maccabi Tel Aviv
Israel
w/o1 Al-Shorta Club
Iraq
Thailand Bangkok

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)[edit]

  • Official season orthography of Asian Club Championship is reset. Both one year seasons and two years seasons listed separately.[21]
Season Winner Score Runner-up Venue
1985–86 Daewoo Royals
South Korea
3 – 1 Al-Ahli SC
Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia Jeddah
1986 Furukawa Electric
Japan
1 Al-Hilal FC
Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia Riyadh
1987 Yomiuri FC
Japan
w/o2 Al-Hilal FC
Saudi Arabia
Two-leg finals
1988–89 Al-Sadd SC
Qatar
3 – 3
(aggregate, away goals win)
Al-Rasheed SC
Iraq
Two-leg finals
1989–90 Liaoning FC
China
3 – 2
(aggregate)
Nissan FC
Japan
Two-leg finals
1990–91 Esteghlal FC
Iran
2 – 1 Liaoning FC
China
Bangladesh Bangabandhu National Stadium, Dhaka
1991 Al-Hilal FC
Saudi Arabia
1 – 1
(4–3 PSO)
Esteghlal FC
Iran
Qatar Doha
1992–93 PAS Tehran FC
Iran
1 – 0 Al-Shabab Club
Saudi Arabia
 Bahrain
1993–94 Thai Farmers Bank FC
Thailand
2 – 1 Oman Club
Oman
Thailand Bangkok
1994–95 Thai Farmers Bank FC
Thailand
1 – 0 Al-Arabi SC
Qatar
Thailand Bangkok
1995 Ilhwa Chunma
South Korea
1 – 0 Al-Nassr FC
Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia King Fahd Stadium, Riyadh
1996–97 Pohang Steelers
South Korea
2 – 1 Cheonan Ilhwa Chunma
South Korea
Malaysia Kuala Lumpur
1997–98 Pohang Steelers
South Korea
0 – 0
(6–5 PSO)
Dalian Wanda
China
Hong Kong Hong Kong Stadium, Hong Kong
1998–99 Júbilo Iwata
Japan
2 – 1 Esteghlal FC
Iran
Iran Azadi Stadium, Tehran
1999–00 Al-Hilal FC
Saudi Arabia
3 – 2 Júbilo Iwata
Japan
Saudi Arabia King Fahd Stadium, Riyadh
2000–01 Suwon Samsung Bluewings
South Korea
1 – 0 Júbilo Iwata
Japan
South Korea Suwon World Cup Stadium, Suwon
2001–02 Suwon Samsung Bluewings
South Korea
0 – 0
(4–2 PSO)
Anyang LG Cheetahs
South Korea
Iran Azadi Stadium, Tehran

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)[edit]

Season Home team Score Away team Venue Attendance
2002/03 United Arab Emirates Al-Ain FC 2–0 Thailand BEC Tero Sasana Tahnoun Bin Mohamed Stadium
Thailand BEC Tero Sasana 1–0 United Arab Emirates Al-Ain FC Rajamangala Stadium
Al-Ain FC won 2 – 1 on aggregate
2004 Saudi Arabia Al-Ittihad FC 1–3 South Korea Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma Prince Abdullah al-Faisal stadium
South Korea Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma 0–5 Saudi Arabia Al-Ittihad FC Tancheon Sports Complex
Al-Ittihad FC won 6 – 3 on aggregate
2005 United Arab Emirates Al-Ain FC 1–1 Saudi Arabia Al-Ittihad FC Tahnoun Bin Mohamed Stadium
Saudi Arabia Al-Ittihad FC 4–2 United Arab Emirates Al-Ain FC Prince Abdullah al-Faisal stadium
Al-Ittihad FC won 5 – 3 on aggregate
2006 South Korea Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 2–0 Syria Al-Karamah SC Jeonju World Cup Stadium 25,830
Syria Al-Karamah SC 2–1 South Korea Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors Khaled bin Walid Stadium 40,000
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors won 3 – 2 on aggregate
2007 Iran Sepahan FC 1–1 Japan Urawa Red Diamonds Foolad Shahr Stadium 30,000
Japan Urawa Red Diamonds 2–0 Iran Sepahan FC Saitama Stadium 2002 59,034
Urawa Red Diamonds won 3 – 1 on aggregate
2008 Japan Gamba Osaka 3–0 Australia Adelaide United Osaka Expo '70 Stadium 20,639
Australia Adelaide United 0–2 Japan Gamba Osaka Hindmarsh Stadium 17,000
Gamba Osaka won 5 – 0 on aggregate
Season Winner Score Runner-up Venue Attendance
2009 South Korea Pohang Steelers 2–1 Saudi Arabia Al-Ittihad FC Japan National Stadium, Tokyo 25,743
2010 South Korea Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma 3–1 Iran Zob Ahan FC Japan National Stadium, Tokyo 27,308
2011 Qatar Al-Sadd SC 2–2
(4–2 PSO)
South Korea Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors South Korea Jeonju World Cup Stadium, Jeonju 41,805
2012 South Korea Ulsan Hyundai 3–0 Saudi Arabia Al-Ahli SC South Korea Ulsan Munsu Football Stadium, Ulsan 42,315
Season Home team Score Away team Venue Attendance
2013 South Korea FC Seoul 2–2 China Guangzhou Evergrande South KoreaSeoul World Cup Stadium, Seoul 55,501
China Guangzhou Evergrande 1–1 South Korea FC Seoul ChinaTianhe Stadium, Guangzhou 55,847
Guangzhou Evergrande won 3 – 3 on away goals
2014 Winner from East Asia Zone Winner from West Asia Zone
Winner from West Asia Zone Winner from East Asia Zone

Records and statistics[edit]

Winning clubs[edit]

The following table lists clubs by number of winners and runner-up in AFC Champions League.

Team Winners Runners-up Years won Years runners-up
Saudi Arabia Al-Ittihad 3 1 2004,2005, 1982 2009
South Korea Pohang Steelers 3 0 1996–97, 1997–98, 2009 -
Saudi Arabia Al-Hilal 2 2 1991, 1999-2000 1986,1987
Iran Esteghlal 2 2 1970, 1990–91 1991, 1998–99
South Korea Seongnam 2 2 1995, 2010 1996–97, 2004
Qatar Al Sadd 2 0 1988–89, 2011 -
South Korea Suwon Samsung Bluewings 2 0 2000–01, 2001–02 -
Thailand Thai Farmers Bank 2 0 1993–94, 1994–95 -
Israel Maccabi Tel Aviv 2 0 1969, 1971 -
Japan Jubilo Iwata 1 2 1998–99 1999–2000, 2000–2001
South Korea Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 1 1 2006 2011
United Arab Emirates Al-Ain 1 1 2002–03 2005
China Liaoning Whowin 1 1 1989–90 1990–91
Israel Hapoel Tel Aviv 1 1 1967 1970
China Guangzhou Evergrande 1 0 2013 -
South Korea Ulsan Hyundai 1 0 2012 -
Japan Gamba Osaka 1 0 2008 -
Japan Urawa Red Diamonds 1 0 2007 -
Iran PAS Tehran 1 0 1992–93 -
Japan Tokyo Verdy 1 0 1987 -
Japan JEF United Chiba 1 0 1986 -
South Korea Busan IPark 1 0 1985–86 -
South Korea FC Seoul 0 2 - 2001–02, 2013
Saudi Arabia Al-Ahli 0 2 - 1985–86, 2012
Iran Zob Ahan Isfahan 0 1 - 2010
Australia Adelaide United 0 1 - 2008
Iran Sepahan 0 1 - 2007
Syria Al-Karamah 0 1 - 2006
Thailand BEC Tero Sasana 0 1 - 2002–03
China Dalian Shide 0 1 - 1997–98
Saudi Arabia Al-Nassr 0 1 - 1995
Qatar Al-Arabi 0 1 - 1994–95
Oman Oman Club 0 1 - 1993–94
Saudi Arabia Al-Shabab 0 1 - 1992–93
Japan Yokohama F. Marinos 0 1 - 1989–90
Iraq Al-Rasheed 0 1 - 1988–89
Iraq Al-Shorta 0 1 - 1971
South Korea Yangzee 0 1 - 1969
Malaysia Selangor 0 1 - 1967

Top scorers[edit]

Year Footballer Club Goals
2002–03 China Hao Haidong China Dalian Shide 9
2004 South Korea Kim Do-hoon South Korea Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma 9
2005 Sierra Leone Mohamed Kallon Saudi Arabia Al-Ittihad 6
2006 Brazil Magno Alves Japan Gamba Osaka 9
2007 Brazil Mota South Korea Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma 7
2008 Thailand Nantawat Tansopa Thailand Krung Thai Bank 9
2009 Brazil Leandro Japan Gamba Osaka 10
2010 Brazil Jose Mota South Korea Suwon Samsung Bluewings 9
2011 Iran Farhad Majidi Iran Esteghlal FC 9
2012 Brazil Ricardo Oliveira United Arab Emirates Al Jazira 12
2013 Brazil Muriqui China Guangzhou Evergrande 13

Fair Play Award[edit]

Year Club
2008 Japan Gamba Osaka
2009 South Korea Pohang Steelers
2010 South Korea Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma
2011 South Korea Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors
2012 South Korea Ulsan Hyundai
2013 South Korea FC Seoul

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Assessment and participation criteria for 2009–2010 seasons
  2. ^ Criteria for Participation in AFC Club Competitions for 2011–2012 seasons
  3. ^ http://www.the-afc.com/en/about-afc/afc-committees/25444-acl-base-widened-from-2014-120313.html
  4. ^ http://www.the-afc.com/en/about-afc/afc-committees/1127-executive-committee/27301-afc-exco-slots-261113.html
  5. ^ a b "AFC ExCo okays ACL slots, format". the-afc.com. Retrieved 4 July 2014. 
  6. ^ http://www.the-afc.com/en/component/jdownloads/finish/182-acl/292-acl-manual-2014.html
  7. ^ http://www.the-afc.com/en/tournaments/clubs/afc-champions-league.html
  8. ^ http://www.the-afc.com/en/tournaments/clubs/afc-champions-league.html
  9. ^ http://www.the-afc.com/en/tournaments/clubs/afc-champions-league.html
  10. ^ http://www.the-afc.com/en/tournaments/clubs/afc-champions-league.html
  11. ^ http://www.the-afc.com/en/tournaments/clubs/afc-champions-league.html
  12. ^ http://www.the-afc.com/en/tournaments/clubs/afc-champions-league.html
  13. ^ http://www.the-afc.com/en/tournaments/clubs/afc-champions-league.html
  14. ^ http://www.goal.com/en-sg/news/3952/asia/2014/01/17/4552632/chinese-firm-to-sponsor-afc-champions-league
  15. ^ http://www.the-afc.com/en/tournaments/clubs/afc-champions-league.html
  16. ^ http://www.the-afc.com/en/tournaments/clubs/afc-champions-league.html
  17. ^ http://www.the-afc.com/en/tournaments/clubs/afc-champions-league.html
  18. ^ http://www.the-afc.com/en/tournaments/clubs/afc-champions-league.html
  19. ^ AFC, WSG Renew Landmark Partnership
  20. ^ https://www.konami-pes2013.com/en/2013/04/afc-champions-league-coming-to-pes/
  21. ^ "AFC Champions League Official Programme". AFC.com. 

External links[edit]