Arab Club Champions Cup
|Region||Arab world (UAFA)|
|Number of teams||40|
|Current champions||Espérance ST (3rd title)|
|Most successful club(s)||
(3 titles each)
|2018–19 Arab Club Champions Cup|
The Arab Club Champions Cup (Arabic: كأس العرب للأندية الأبطال, French: Ligue des Champions Arabe) is an annual regional club football competition organised by the Union of Arab Football Associations (UAFA) and contested by elite clubs from the Arab world. The tournament is contested by a total of 40 teams – 20 from the Asian Football Confederation and 20 from the Confederation of African Football.
Founded in 1980, the tournament was held alongside the Arab Cup Winners' Cup and the Arab Super Cup throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, until the Cup Winners' Cup and Super Cup were merged with the Champions Cup in 2002. The tournament's first ever champions were Iraqi giants Al-Shorta, who defeated Lebanese side Al-Nejmeh in the final over two legs in 1982.
Saudi Arabian clubs have accumulated the most victories, with eight wins. The title has been won by 18 different clubs, seven of which have the title more than once. Since the tournament was merged with the Cup Winners' Cup, only ES Sétif of Algeria have managed consecutive wins, successfully defending their title in 2008. The reigning champions are Espérance de Tunis of Tunisia, who won the 2017 edition to became the joint-most successful club in the tournament's history alongside now-dissolved Iraqi club Al-Rasheed.
The tournament was founded in 1980 as the Arab Club Champions Cup, six years after the foundation of the Union of Arab Football Associations (UAFA), as an annual competition for the champions of Arab countries. The first edition saw three domestic champions participating in a knockout format, with Iraqi club Al-Shorta becoming the first ever champions, winning a two-legged final against Al-Nejmeh. The following three editions were decided by a round-robin format instead, until 1987 where a new format consisting of both a group stage and a knockout stage (culminating in a single-leg final) was introduced.
In 1989, UAFA founded a new annual competition that would be held alongside the Arab Club Champions Cup. It was called the Arab Cup Winners' Cup and was a competition for the cup winners of Arab countries, with a similar format to that of the Champions Cup. In 1992, UAFA introduced the Arab Super Cup which was an annual round-robin competition between the winners and runners-up of the Champions Cup and Cup Winners' Cup. In 2002, UAFA made a decision that changed the face of Arab continental football. They decided to merge the Cup Winners' Cup and Super Cup with the Champions Cup to form the Arab Unified Club Championship. Two editions of the tournament were played under this name, until UAFA changed the name of the tournament to the Arab Champions League so that its name was similar to other elite continental tournaments such as the UEFA Champions League, CAF Champions League, AFC Champions League and OFC Champions League. From the 2004–05 edition onwards, UAFA reintroduced two-legged finals, which had not been used since the very first edition of the tournament won by Al-Shorta.
The tournament ran smoothly up to an including 2008–09, but UAFA ran into organisational problems after this due to issues with the tournament's sponsor. This prevented the tournament from being held for four years until it resurfaced in 2012–13 under the new name of UAFA Club Cup. However, UAFA ran into the same problems as before after that season which led to another four-year hiatus. The competition was held again in 2017 under the name of Arab Club Championship with 20 teams, with the entirety of the group stage and knockout stage being held in Egypt and the final being held as a single leg. The number of teams doubled to 40 for the 2018–19 season where the competition has returned to its first name of Arab Club Champions Cup and has changed its format to become a knockout competition from the Round of 32 onwards.
Records and statistics
|Num||Club||Winners||Runners-up||Years won||Years lost|
|1||Espérance de Tunis||3||2||1993, 2009, 2017||1986, 1995|
|2||Al-Rasheed||3||0||1985, 1986, 1987|
|CS Sfaxien||2000, 2004||2005|
|6||ES Sétif||2||0||2007, 2008|
|Wydad Casablanca||1989||2008, 2009|
|Club Africain||1997||1988, 2002|