AFC rethinks AFC Cup format, ranking criteria and foreign player quotas

AFC Cup

By Paul Nicholson

November 25 – The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Competitions Committee is proposing a revamp of the AFC Cup, the confederations cup competition for clubs that come from the AFC’s lower ranked member nations. On what was a packed meeting agenda, changes to ranking criteria and a hard look at foreign player quotas were put forward.

The AFC Cup has been dominated by clubs from the AFC’s West Zone in recent years. The new format now being proposed is aimed at encouraging clubs from the AFC’s other four zones.

Under this format the West Zone clubs will compete for a spot in the West Zone final which will provide their region’s representative for the AFC Cup final.

The winner will meet the victors of an inter-zone play-off between the champions of ASEAN, Central, South and East Zones.

The East vs West final which will be played on a rotational basis at venues in the East and West from 2018.

“The new format is to help more teams from lower ranked Member Associations to compete and raise playing standards in line with the AFC’s Vision and Mission objectives of Member Association Development and improving the standard of Asian teams,” said an AFC press release.

Ranking changes

In combination with a change in the AFC Cup competition, the Competitions Committee has recommended a change to the ranking system for AFC club competitions. Currently club performances make up 70% of the rankings with 30% of the ranking coming from the national team results.

The Competitions Committee is proposing a transition period until 2021 when the rankings will rely 100% on club performances. For 2019 and 2020 the ratio for the rankings will be based 10% on national team results and 90% on club results.

“The transition period will allow the lower-ranked Member Associations to gain points for qualification for the AFC Cup. The rankings will in future be known as the AFC Club Competition Ranking,” said the AFC.

Foreign player quotas

The ‘three-plus-one’ rule – three non-Asian and one Asian player being available to play for clubs – looks set to remain in place with a minor adjustment that will allow clubs to register more foreign players in their squads but sticking to the old rule for match day teams.

A working group has been set up to examine alternatives as well as examining a strengthening of the nationalization criteria for players. The AFC recently had to disqualify United Arab Emirates club Al Nasr from the Asian Champions League for two years after Brazil-born forward Santos Monteiro Wanderley was discovered to have been travelling on a forged Indonesian passport.

China set for AFC U-23 Championship 2018 hosting

China PR has been recommended as the hosts of the AFC U-23 Championship in 2018. The competition will be played in four cities and four stadiums with the cities of Kunshan, Changshu, Jiangyin and Changzhou identified as potential host venues. The recommendation will now go to the AFC Executive Committee for approval.

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