FIFPRO Asia/Oceania has today published a report analysing the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) flagship club competition, the AFC Champions League (ACL). 

The report, AFC Champions League Analysis Report: Counting the cost for players and clubs, was produced in collaboration with leading sporting intelligence agency Twenty First Group (TFG).  

The evidence-based assessment includes an analysis of the AFC Champions League ‘legacy’ format and examines the likely impact of the new AFC Champions League Elite (ACLE), announced by the AFC in December 2022. The ACLE will commence in July this year. 

Utilising TFG’s analysis, independent insights and direct feedback from players and participating clubs, the report analyses the on-field quality and competitive balance, attendances and fan engagement, economics for clubs and players, travel and workload, competition design, and football development outcomes of the ACL ‘legacy’ format. 

The research finds that the ACL has not been delivering value for participating players or clubs, and questions whether the new ACLE reforms will deliver a more beneficial tournament for all stakeholders. 

Click here to download and view the report.

“This report analyses the merits and drawbacks of the current AFC Champions League based on various data and the results indicate that the merits do not outweigh the drawbacks for most players and clubs, making it an unsustainable system,” FIFPRO Asia/Oceania Chair Takuya Yamazaki outlines in the report. 

“However, this does not mean that the future of football in Asia is bleak. On the contrary, we believe that this economically significant region can lead a discussion for truly sustainable competition formats.” 

The report, the most comprehensive public analysis of the ACL, recommends the AFC establish a genuine partnership that delivers a more sustainable model that rewards all stakeholders. 

“For players, the development of competitions is central to their employment conditions and future opportunities. As its primary workforce, the players are determined to play their role to shape a sustainable and innovation-driven future for the football sector in Asia,” Yamazaki writes. 

Jerome Perlemuter, General Secretary of World Leagues Forum, which represents professional football leagues on a global level, said collaboration between all stakeholders in the Asian region would help shape and deliver sustainable competitions.  

“FIFPRO’s contribution to shaping the future of Asian continental competitions is most welcome,” Perlemuter said. 

“Sustainable football development requires confederations, leagues and players to work together with a common objective to shape high potential continental competitions in a consistent global calendar. In this context, it is important to consider economic, geographical and cultural specificities. We look forward to continuing these discussions with FIFPRO and all stakeholders.”