Asian Football Confederation Champions League
The AFC Champions League is the most important of the federation’s 16 tournaments. It is an international club competition, which takes place in 2022 from March 01 to November 29.
Since 1967, the competition was held for five years under the name “Asian Club Championship. Then the tournament had hard times: it was not held at all. In 1986, the tournament was revived under the name “Asian”, and in 2003, after merging with the Asian Cup, it received the current format and the familiar name.
The governing body of the championship is the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), one of the six confederations within FIFA. It was founded in 1954 in Manila, is headquartered in Kuala Lumpur and consists of 47 member associations.
The AFC Champions League is the main competition for Asian clubs, attracting millions of fans across the continent and beyond to the beautiful game.
Forty-five teams from 17 countries participate in the tournament:
- 24 teams qualify directly into the group round
- 21 teams start the tournament with qualification rounds
The national league rankings consist of criteria that are not directly related to the results of teams in competitions. The ranking takes into account the organization of championships, level of attendance at tournaments, quality of media coverage of events, development of sports infrastructure, quantity and quality of arenas and more.
Asian soccer clubs from small countries cannot participate in AFC Champions League matches – a significant difference from the European League. Thirty-two teams from 17 countries play in the finals, 24 of which go unqualified, and another eight spots are drawn between 20 clubs.
In 2009, the AFC synchronized the rules: 32 teams, eight groups, two rounds. Two teams advance to the 1/8 finals from each group. In the playoffs, each team plays one away game and one home game, but the match cannot end in a draw: if the main game does not reveal the winner, a replay is scheduled.
The draw from the first round to the final gives an indication of which opponent the team will face in the next round. The first round is a qualifying round with a maximum of eight clubs, two of which qualify for the group, and all losers continue to compete in a lower division tournament – the Asian Confederation Cup.