Saudi Arabia have received the honor of hosting the final stage of the AFC Champions League Elite (ACLE) tournament. This adds to their roster of soccer events.
This is at the forefront of the transformation taking place in Asian soccer, which is seeing a number of developments. A growing number of contests are choosing Saudi Arabia as their site, making them one of the most desirable destinations.
In addition to hosting the first Asian Champions League for the next two years, the Asian Football Association (AFC) has suggested that this location should also host the tournament for the next three years. However, the AFC still has to ratify this.
Saudi Arabia will host the 2034 World Cup. Thus the nation is trying to bolster its reputation as a host and increase its influence in the process. In a month, Saudi Arabia will play host to their first FIFA competition since the 1997 Confederations Cup. This will be the seven-team Club World Cup.
Opening on December 12 and running until December 22, it features treble winners, Manchester City, and hosts Al-Ittihad in Jeddah. Meanwhile, in addition to Riyadh hosting the 2034 Asian Games, they have also won the right to host the 2027 Asian Cup final.
New and improved format and prize money
After competing with the Iraq Football Association, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) announced that the Saudi Arabian Football Federation will be hosting the new competition. “After evaluating the infrastructure and accommodation requirements”, the decision-makers reached their conclusion.
In September of next year, the redesigned tournament will go off, replacing the current Asian Champions League. The 2024-25 season will mark the start of the restructured league. The dates set for the Final Stage are April 25-May 4, 2025.
The best 24 teams from the continent will split into two 12-team divisions. One for the East and one for the West. Eight teams will therefore make it to a centralized final phase in Saudi Arabia.
This comes after competing both at home and away for a chance to play in the round of 16. The quarterfinals, semi-finals, and final, all played over the course of one leg, will take place throughout the kingdom.
In an effort to up the ante, the primary prize has risen from $4 million to $12 million. Saudi Arabia will host the final rounds. These are the most significant changes to a championship that needs progress.
What did AFC say?
After the South Asian Football Federation was invited to submit their interest in hosting the tournament for a minimum of two seasons beginning in 2024/25, it was announced that they had been selected as the host.
Thus, after considering the venue, lodging, and other logistical considerations, the decision on the host the continent’s elite club championship came.
The AFC made the following announcement about the hosting rights on Friday: “The [Saudi Arabian Football Federation] was selected as the eventual host after evaluating the infrastructure and accommodation requirements, as well as all other key operational aspects needed to stage a tournament befitting the prestige and stature of the continent’s newly revamped premier club competition.”
Photo credits: IMAGO / AFLOSPORT : IMAGO / Xinhua
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