The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) club competition will be greatly expanded from the 2024-2025 season. The AFC club competition will be held in three stages: Champions League Elite, Champions League 2 and Challenge League.스포츠토토
In the Champions League Elite, 24 teams, including the top teams in major leagues in Asia and the winners of the FA Cup, will participate. Saudi Arabia and Japan receive three direct tickets. Korea, China, Qatar, and Iran get a ‘2+1’ card, including two direct tickets and one playoff card. Direct tickets are given to the winners of the domestic league and the FA Cup. Playoff 1 goes to 2nd place in the league.
Champions League 2 was reborn by raising the level of the existing AFC Cup. The number of participating teams decreased from 40 to 32. Instead, the AFC newly established the bottom-level competition, the Challenge League (20 teams compete). In short, the number of Asian club competitions was increased from 2 to 3, and the participating teams were effectively separated by country to raise the level of the competition and increase the number of participants. It will change similarly to the European Football Federation (UEFA), which runs all European leagues by grade according to the league level and ranking of each country, such as the Champions League and Europa League. The prize money for winning the AFC Champions League elite has tripled to $12 million (approximately 16 billion won). AFC aims to increase Asian soccer competitiveness by increasing the size of Asian club matches, while following the flow of world soccer that is centered on Europe.
Asian countries also appear to be skillfully responding to AFC changes. The most important thing is to switch to the national league selection system. Among the 47 member countries of the AFC, about 40 countries, including all countries in Southwest Asia, are running their own leagues as an autumn festival. Only Korea, Japan, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Uzbekistan have a Spring Festival. However, from the 2026-2027 season, Japan is betting its life and death on the implementation of the Autumn Festival. In Japan, there are dome stadiums and there are relatively many warm regions in winter compared to Korea, so there are no physical limitations in implementing the Chuchun Festival.
Then how about Korea? The Korea Football Association is reviewing the transition to the FA Cup Chuchun system. The preliminary round, in which amateur teams participate, is held in the fall, and the final round, in which professional teams participate, is continued in the spring of the following year. Then, professional clubs can focus on the FA Cup in the first half and the K-League in the second half. As the FA Cup winning team has a direct ticket to the AFC Champions League Elite, the FA Cup attention and weight will increase. The Korea Professional Football Federation has basically reviewed the conversion of the K-League Chuchun system from several years ago, but there is no significant progress. This is because there is no way to fill the gap of three months in the winter season as there is no dome stadium where professional football can be played during the long winter season. Should a few dome stadiums be built and the K-League should be changed to a Chu-chun system, or should it remain as a Chu-chun system? This is a task that Korean professional football should seriously consider.