December 1 – Saudi Arabia will stage the first two editions of the ‘final 8’ of the AFC Champions League Elite Finals, Asia’s revamped top-tier competition, the Asian Football Confederation confirmed today.
Saudi Arabia won the rights for the first two years of the finals ahead of a rival bid submitted by the Iraq Football Association “after evaluating the infrastructure and accommodation requirements”, the AFC.
The reformatted competition begins with the 2024-24 season. The Final Stage 2024/25 is scheduled to be held from April 25 to May 4, 2025.
The competition, which begins in September next year, will see the eventual winners netting $12 million – up from $4 million this year.
The Continent’s top 24 clubs will be divided into two leagues of 12 teams across the West and East regions, who will compete in a home and away league format for a place in the Round of 16, where the eight winners will advance to a centralised final round where teams play the quarterfinals, semis, and final in a single-leg form.
The AFC added that the Arab Kingdom has also been provisionally awarded the rights for a further three seasons from 2026/27 to 2028/29, subject to the AFC’s review of the SAFF’s performance in the initial seasons “and having due regard of the AFC’s general requirements with the hosting of the Competition, whilst also taking into consideration the progressive needs for each season as well as any other expressions of interest received by other AFC MAs.”
Later this month, Saudi Arabia will stage the seven-team Club World Cup, its first FIFA tournament since the 1997 Confederations Cup as the country seeks to build its hosting credentials and influence ahead of the 2034 World Cup that FIFA will award to Saudi Arabia next year. In 2027, the Arab Kingdom will also stage the Asian Cup.
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