The ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) has announced that the inaugural ASEAN Club Championship, featuring the top clubs from Southeast Asia, will kick off next year.
The ASEAN Club championship (ACC) will feature 12 clubs from AFF Member Associations and will carry a lucrative purse of US$ 500,000 for the winners. “The ACC will be the next major competition in the region after the enormously successful AFF Suzuki Cup,” AFF announced.
AFF also announced that they have held meetings with FIFA president Gianni Infantino, who was recently in Thailand, to discuss the club competition and added that they have the full backing of FIFA and Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
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The association added that the winners of the ASEAN championship could earn a place in the final rounds of the expanded 24-team FIFA Club World Cup — the 2021 version of which is to be held in China PR.
“The prospects of playing in the expanded FIFA Club World Cup is enticing and will translate to among other things greater investment by league and clubs in the region thus contributing to the further growth of the football ecosystem in Southeast Asia,” said AFF president Khiev Sameth in a press release.
Sameth said that the AFF met FIFA president Infantino twice to discuss the ASEAN Club Championship — once in Thailand last week and earlier in Vietnam last month.
“We took time to put this integrated and holistic plan together as there were numerous factors to consider, including ensuring no conflict in scheduling with the domestic leagues, FIFA and AFC fixtures including that of the expanded AFC Champions League,” the AFF president said.
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“We also had to look into other crucial matters like branding, prize money and format of competition. Then, there were the negotiations with the various commercial partners over the past months before securing the approval of the AFF Council,” Sameth added.
“The ACC plan was finally discussed again at the AFF Special Council Meeting which met in Ho Chi Minh last week, specifically to deliberate and approve the details of the ACC and the Master Rights Agreement. I am pleased to share that the ASEAN Club Championship was unanimously approved by all the Member Associations that were present at the AFF Special Council Meeting,” he added.
AFF said that further details of the tournament will be revealed on a future date.
AFF has previously conducted a biennial ASEAN Club Championship in 2003 and 2005 that featured the champion clubs from the AFF Member Associations. However, the competition was later discontinued.