AFC Champions League
The AFC Champions League is the most important Asian club football competition, similar to the European Champions League, which is organized by the Asian Football Confederation ( AFC) and since 1967 as "Asian Champion Club Tournament" or "Asian Club Championship" ( engl.: Asia Cup the national champion ) was first held irregularly. Since 2003, the competition, including the national cup winner as AFC Champions League played in its current form. In contrast to the European Champions League but not all member associations of the AFC are eligible.
The winner of the AFC Champions League qualifies regularly for the FIFA Club World Cup.
Precursor competitions were the 1967 discharged Asian Champion Club Tournament, or the Asian Club Championship, comparable to the European Champions Cup. At that time, eight masters of a country should participate in the competition. The masters of Iran and India, however, withdrew from the competition back before starting. With six teams (South China AA, Bangkok Bank FC, Selangor FA, Vietnam Customs, Hapoel Tel Aviv, Tungsten Mining) the competition was on 18 May 1967 at the KO System started. The first game in the history of the competition took place between the South China AA and FC Bangkok Bank. Hapoel Tel Aviv won the match against the representatives of Malaysia, Selangor FA, the final. In 1968 she began the Asian Champion Club competition for the first time from then to 1969, this time in the format with group phase to take place again. 1972, but then came the final out. The reasons were to take part in the lack of interest of the clubs. Football in Asia stuck at that time still in its " infancy " and the clubs rarely had to take the money to travel widely in coming.
Organizational problems and international conflicts, however, led to a long suspension of the competition.
In 1985, the competition analogous to the known UEFA European Cup format was revived. Participation was limited again on the respective national champion. Again and again it came about that clubs for financial reasons, withdrew from the competition competed or not only. 1990 was then introduced from the AFC Asia Cup Winners' Cup which was attended by the respective national cup winner. The winners of both competitions then played from the Asian Super Cup. Thai Farmers Bank in 1995 was the first club, who defended his title in the National Championship competition. The Pohang Steelers in 1998, the Suwon Samsung Bluewings in 2002 and Al -Ittihad in 2005 were able to repeat this performance in the series.
As of 2003 both competitions were combined for AFC Champions League. The main round of the Champions League was new in 2003 from four groups of four teams each. The following year, then took part in 28 teams from 14 nations. The seven group winners qualified for the quarter-finals, as well as the title holder of the previous year. In 2007, for the first time in some clubs from Australia to the Champions League after the Australian Federation 2006, the AFC had joined from the OFC and off.
Current game mode and eligibility criteria
By 2008, only the champion and cup winner of the 15 strongest associations took part in the competition. The next best organizations sent their participants in the AFC Cup, for " footballing developing countries " of the AFC President's Cup is intended. This system is part of the 2003 AFC Vision Asia plan presented, with which one tries to take the enormous developmental differences within the continent invoice and prevent the disintegration of the federation in various spheres of interest.
As of 2009, the Champions League AFC Pro League should be renamed. At the end you kept the current name, but tightened the criteria for participation. Prior to the changes to all associations of the AFC were subjected to a rating according to various criteria and evaluates on a point system. The criteria were, inter alia, Stadiums, infrastructure and marketing and the marketing of the games in each country. For the first time in the history of the Asian Championships there will be a qualification for the main round of the Champions League. In the West the master group from India, the United Arab Emirates and the two finalists of the AFC Cup play for a place in the group stage. In the East the group champion from Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia compete. The losers of the qualifying round start in the AFC Cup. Directly qualified for the group stage of four teams each from Saudi Arabia, Iran, China, South Korea and Japan. The UAE can send three teams, further two teams from Australia, Uzbekistan, Qatar, and a team from Indonesia come.
After the group stage, it continues in knockout mode until the final. The final was first held in Japan in 2009 and not as before in return game.
The finals and prize
The most successful club are the Pohang Steelers, who have won all three of their final appearances. Most finals, Al -Hilal recorded with four.
Although the first years of the Asian Club Championships were dominated by Israeli clubs, but the titles have been distributed subsequently to 1995, quite balanced among Qatar, South Korea, Iran, Japan, China, Thailand and Saudi Arabia. Then won South Korean clubs five titles in seven years. When the Asian Club Championship was renamed the AFC Champions League 2003, this successful series ended with three hits Arabic clubs. Starting in 2006, dominate East Asian societies (Japan and South Korea).
So far, four clubs ( FC Thai Farmers Bank, Pohang Steelers and Suwon Samsung Bluewings and Al -Ittihad ) could defend her title from last year.