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    * AFC Champions League *

    لیگ قهرمانان آسیا


    Iranian_Flag_Hand_Love_Heart.jpg
    (Wikipedia) - AFC Champions League AFC Champions League Founded Region Number of teams Current champions Most successful club(s) Website
    1967 (2002 in its current format)
    Asia (AFC)
    32 (group stage) 47 (total)
    Guangzhou Evergrande (1st title)
    Pohang Steelers (3 titles)
    Official website
    2014 AFC Champions League

    The AFC Champions League is the Asian premier football club competition, run by the Asian Football Confederation. It is equivalent to the CONMEBOL Copa Libertadores and the UEFA, CAF, CONCACAF & OFC Champions League competitions.

    A total of forty-seven clubs compete in the competition; twenty-eight clubs receive automatic berths, with nineteen clubs qualifying via the qualifying playoffs. Since 2009, the champions do not qualify automatically for the following year competition.

    The winner of the AFC Champions League qualifies for the FIFA Club World Cup. The reigning champions of the competition are Guangzhou Evergrande. The most successful club in the competition is the Pohang Steelers with a total of three titles.

    Contents

    History 1967–2002: Beginnings

    The competition started as the Asian Champion Club Tournament, the competition had a variety of different formats with the inaugural tournament staged as a straightforward knockout format. The two most successful clubs of this era were Hapoel Tel Aviv and Maccabi Tel Aviv. The tournament was not held after the 1971 edition for fourteen years due to a lack of professionalism and interest.

    In 1985/86 competition marked the return of the premier club tournament rebranded the Asian Club Championship. The format would again change for time to time with a few withdrawals also seen. In 1990, the Asian Football Confederation introduced the Asian Cup Winners Cup, with the 1995 season seeing the introduction of the Asian Super Cup.

    2002–present: Champions League era

    The 2002/03 season saw the Asian Club Championship, Asian Cup Winners Cup and Asian Super Cup combine to become the AFC Champions League. League and Cup Winners would qualify for the qualifying playoffs with the best eight clubs from east and west Asia progressing to the Group Stage. The first winners under the AFC Champions League name was Al Ain defeating BEC Tero 2-1 on aggregate. The competition would be postponed for one year due to the SARI Virus.

    The tournament was re-launched in 2004 with 29 clubs from fourteen countries. Unlike the previous year, the tournament schedule was changed to March to November. In the group stage, the 28 clubs were divided into seven groups of four on a regional basis, separating East Asian and West Asian clubs to reduce traveling costs, and played double round-robin on a home and away basis. Then, the seven group winners along with the defending champions qualified to the quarterfinals. The quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals were played as a two-legged format, with away goals, extra time, and penalties used as tie-breakers.

    The 2005 season saw Syrian clubs join the competition, thus increasing the number of participating countries to 15, and two years later, following their transfer into the AFC in 2006, Australian clubs were also included in the tournament. Owing to the lack of professionalism in Asian football, many problems still existed in the tournament, such as on field violence and late submission of the player registration. Many blamed the lack of prize money and expensive travel cost as the some of the reasons.

    The Champions League expanded to 32 clubs in 2009 with direct entry to the top ten Asian leagues. Each country received up to 4 slots, though no more than one third of the number of teams in that country''s top division, rounded downwards, depending on the strength of their league, league structure (professionalism), marketability, financial status, and other criteria set by the AFC Pro-League committee.

    The assessment criteria and ranking for participating associations would be revised by AFC every two years, with the most recent ones being approved for the 2011–2012 seasons.

    The prize money has been significantly increased since 2009 season and the clubs can earn some prize money even at the group stage depending on their performance. The group stage was conducted in the same manner as the previous four tournaments; this time, however, now eight group winners and eight runners-up qualify to the Round of 16, in which group-winners play host to the runners-up in a single match format, matched regionally.

    The regional restriction was lifted from the further stages, though since 2010 season clubs from the same country cannot face each other in the quarterfinals unless that country has three or more representatives in the quarterfinals. The quarterfinals and the semifinals are played in two-legged series, with away goal, extra time, and penalties used as tie-breakers. The final is played as a single match at a pre-determined neutral venue.

    In 2013, the Asian Football Confederation made a proposal to revert the final back to a single leg and allow the best twenty-three member associations that meet the ACL Criteria to compete. A final decision on the proposals was made in November 2013. On 26 November 2013, the executive committee decided to keep the Final two legs after the success of the 2013 AFC Champions League Final and expand the competition to nineteen member associations.

    Format QualificationMap of AFC countries whose teams reached the group stage of the AFC Champions League   AFC member country that has been represented in the group stage   AFC member country that has not been represented in the group stage   Not an AFC member

    As of 2009 edition of the tournament, the AFC Champions League has commenced with a double round-robin group stage of 32 teams, which is preceded by qualifying matches for teams that do not receive direct entry to the competition proper. Teams are also split into east and west zones to progress separately in the tournament.

    The number of teams that each association enters into the AFC Champions League is determined annually through a criteria as set by the AFC Competitions Committee. The criteria, which is a modified version of the UEFA coefficient, measures such thing as marketability and stadia to determine the specific number of berths that an association receives. The higher an association''s ranking as determined by the criteria, the more teams represent the association in the Champions League, and the fewer qualification rounds the association''s teams must compete in.

    Tournament

    The tournament proper begins with a group stage of 32 teams, divided into eight groups. Seeding is used whilst making the draw for this stage, whilst teams from the same country may not be drawn into groups together. Each team meets the others in its group home and away in a round-robin format. The winning team and the runners-up from each group then progress to the next round.

    For this stage, the winning team from one group plays against the runners-up from another group, and teams from the same association may not be drawn against each other. From the quarter-finals onwards, the draw is entirely random, without association protection. The tournament uses the away goals rule: if the aggregate score of the two games is tied, then the team who scored more goals at their opponent''s stadium advances. If still tied the clubs play extra time, where the away goals rule does not apply. If still tied after extra time, the game goes to penalties.

    The group stage and Round of 16 matches are played through the first half of the year (February–May), whilst the knock-out stage there after is played during the second half of the year (August–November). The knock-out ties are played in a two-legged format, with the exception of the final. From 2014, east and west zones will be kept part until the final with no country protection rule applied.

    Allocation

    Teams from only 18 AFC countries have reached the group stage of the AFC Champions League. The allocation of those teams by member country is listed below. Asterisks represent at least one team was eliminated in qualification; 31 AFC countries have had teams participate in qualification, though countries that have never reached the group stage are not shown (e.g. Hong Kong, India, Jordan, etc.).

    Associations Spots 2002–03 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 East Asia West Asia Total
    Australia 2 2 2 2 2 3 1* 3
    China PR 2 2 2 2 2 2 4 4 4 3 4 4
    Indonesia 0* 2 2 0 2 0 1* 1* 1* 0* 0 0
    Japan 2 2 2 2 2 3 4 4 4 4 4 4
    Korea Republic 2 2 2 2 3 2 4 4 4 4 4 4
    Singapore 0* 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0*
    Thailand 2 2 2 0 1 2 0* 0* 0* 1* 2 1*
    Vietnam 0* 2 2 2 1 2 0 0* 0 0 0 0*
    Total 8 12 12 8 13 13 16 16 15 15 15 16
    Bahrain 0* 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0*
    Iran 2 2 2 2 1 2 4 4 4 3* 3* 4
    Iraq 1* 2 2 2 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0*
    Kuwait 0* 2 2 2 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0*
    Qatar 1* 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 3 4 4 4
    Saudi Arabia 1* 2 3 3 2 2 4 4 4 3* 4 4
    Syria 0* 0 2 2 2 2 0 0* 0* 0 0 0
    Turkmenistan 1* 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    UAE 1* 3 2 2 2 2 4 4 4 4 4 3*
    Uzbekistan 1* 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 3* 2* 1*
    Total 8 17 17 17 15 16 16 16 17 17 17 16
    Finals 16 29 29 25 28 29 32 32 32 32 32 32
    Qualifying 53 29 29 25 28 29 35 37 36 37 35 47
    Prizes Trophy Prize money

    The prize money for the 2014 AFC Champions League:

    Phase Result Travel Subsidy
    Qualifying Playoffs N/A $20,000
    Group stages Win: $40,000 & Draw: $20,000 $30,000
    Round of 16 $50,000 $40,000
    Quarter-finals $80,000 $50,000
    Semi-finals $120,000 $60,000
    Final Champions: $1.5 million & Runners-up: $750,000 $60,000
    Sponsorship Media coverage

    The competition attracts an extensive television audience throughout Asia. The final of the tournament has been, in recent years, one of the most-watched annual sporting events in the continent. The matches are broadcast in countries with commentary provided in various languages.

    Asian Champions League Finals Asian Champion Club Tournament (1967–1972) Season Winner Score Runner-up Venue
    1967 Hapoel Tel Aviv 2 – 1 Selangor FA Bangkok
    1969 Maccabi Tel Aviv 1 – 0 Yangzee FC Bangkok
    1970 Taj 2 – 1 Hapoel Tel Aviv Amjadieh Stadium, Tehran
    1971 Maccabi Tel Aviv w/o1 Al-Shorta Club Bangkok

    1 The final was scratched and Maccabi were awarded the championship after Al-Shorta refused to play in the final for political reasons.

    Asian Club Championship (1985–2002) Season Winner Score Runner-up Venue
    1985–86 Daewoo Royals 3 – 1 Al-Ahli SC Jeddah
    1986 Furukawa Electric 1 Al-Hilal FC Riyadh
    1987 Yomiuri FC w/o2 Al-Hilal FC Two-leg finals
    1988–89 Al-Sadd SC 3 – 3 (aggregate, away goals win) Al-Rasheed SC Two-leg finals
    1989–90 Liaoning FC 3 – 2 (aggregate) Nissan FC Two-leg finals
    1990–91 Esteghlal FC 2 – 1 Liaoning FC Bangabandhu National Stadium, Dhaka
    1991 Al-Hilal FC 1 – 1 (4–3 PSO) Esteghlal FC Doha
    1992–93 PAS Tehran FC 1 – 0 Al-Shabab Club  Bahrain
    1993–94 Thai Farmers Bank FC 2 – 1 Oman Club Bangkok
    1994–95 Thai Farmers Bank FC 1 – 0 Al-Arabi SC Bangkok
    1995 Ilhwa Chunma 1 – 0 Al-Nassr FC King Fahd Stadium, Riyadh
    1996–97 Pohang Steelers 2 – 1 Cheonan Ilhwa Chunma Kuala Lumpur
    1997–98 Pohang Steelers 0 – 0 (6–5 PSO) Dalian Wanda Hong Kong Stadium, Hong Kong
    1998–99 Júbilo Iwata 2 – 1 Esteghlal FC Azadi Stadium, Tehran
    1999–00 Al-Hilal FC 3 – 2 Júbilo Iwata King Fahd Stadium, Riyadh
    2000–01 Suwon Samsung Bluewings 1 – 0 Júbilo Iwata Suwon World Cup Stadium, Suwon
    2001–02 Suwon Samsung Bluewings 0 – 0 (4–2 PSO) Anyang LG Cheetahs Azadi Stadium, Tehran

    1 The championship was decided in a final pool of four teams. 2 The final was scratched and Yomiuri FC were awarded the championship after Al-Hilal objected to the match officials that were chosen for the first leg and refused to participate in the final.

    AFC Champions League (2002/03–present) Season Home team Score Away team Venue Attendance Season Winner Score Runner-up Venue Attendance Season Home team Score Away team Venue Attendance
    2002/03 Al-Ain FC 2–0 BEC Tero Sasana Tahnoun Bin Mohamed Stadium
    BEC Tero Sasana 1–0 Al-Ain FC Rajamangala Stadium
    Al-Ain FC won 2 – 1 on aggregate
    2004 Al-Ittihad FC 1–3 Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma Prince Abdullah al-Faisal stadium
    Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma 0–5 Al-Ittihad FC Tancheon Sports Complex
    Al-Ittihad FC won 6 – 3 on aggregate
    2005 Al-Ain FC 1–1 Al-Ittihad FC Tahnoun Bin Mohamed Stadium
    Al-Ittihad FC 4–2 Al-Ain FC Prince Abdullah al-Faisal stadium
    Al-Ittihad FC won 5 – 3 on aggregate
    2006 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 2–0 Al-Karamah SC Jeonju World Cup Stadium 25,830
    Al-Karamah SC 2–1 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors Khaled bin Walid Stadium 40,000
    Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors won 3 – 2 on aggregate
    2007 Sepahan FC 1–1 Urawa Red Diamonds Foolad Shahr Stadium 30,000
    Urawa Red Diamonds 2–0 Sepahan FC Saitama Stadium 2002 59,034
    Urawa Red Diamonds won 3 – 1 on aggregate
    2008 Gamba Osaka 3–0 Adelaide United Osaka Expo ''70 Stadium 20,639
    Adelaide United 0–2 Gamba Osaka Hindmarsh Stadium 17,000
    Gamba Osaka won 5 – 0 on aggregate
    2009 Pohang Steelers 2–1 Al-Ittihad FC National Stadium, Tokyo 25,743
    2010 Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma 3–1 Zob Ahan FC National Stadium, Tokyo 27,308
    2011 Al-Sadd SC 2–2 (4–2 PSO) Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors Jeonju World Cup Stadium, Jeonju 41,805
    2012 Ulsan Hyundai 3–0 Al-Ahli SC Ulsan Munsu Football Stadium, Ulsan 42,315
    2013 FC Seoul 2–2 Guangzhou Evergrande Seoul World Cup Stadium, Seoul 55,501
    Guangzhou Evergrande 1–1 FC Seoul Tianhe Stadium, Guangzhou 55,847
    Guangzhou Evergrande won 3 – 3 on away goals
    2014 Western Sydney Wanderers Al-Hilal Parramatta Stadium, Sydney
    Al-Hilal Western Sydney Wanderers King Fahd Stadium, Riyadh
    Records and statistics Main article: Asian Club Championship and AFC Champions League records and statistics Winning clubs Main article: List of Asian Club Championship and AFC Champions League finals

    The following table lists clubs by number of winners and runner-up in AFC Champions League.

    Team Winners Runners-up Years won Years runners-up
    Pohang Steelers 3 0 1996–97, 1997–98, 2009 -
    Esteghlal 2 2 1970, 1990–91 1991, 1998–99
    Al-Hilal 2 2 1991, 1999-2000 1986,1987
    Seongnam 2 2 1995, 2010 1996–97, 2004
    Al-Ittihad 2 1 2004, 2005 2009
    Al Sadd 2 0 1988–89, 2011 -
    Suwon Samsung Bluewings 2 0 2000–01, 2001–02 -
    Thai Farmers Bank 2 0 1993–94, 1994–95 -
    Maccabi Tel Aviv 2 0 1969, 1971 -
    Jubilo Iwata 1 2 1998–99 1999–2000, 2000–2001
    Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 1 1 2006 2011
    Al-Ain 1 1 2002–03 2005
    Liaoning Whowin 1 1 1989–90 1990–91
    Hapoel Tel Aviv 1 1 1967 1970
    Guangzhou Evergrande 1 0 2013 -
    Ulsan Hyundai 1 0 2012 -
    Gamba Osaka 1 0 2008 -
    Urawa Red Diamonds 1 0 2007 -
    PAS Tehran 1 0 1992–93 -
    Tokyo Verdy 1 0 1987 -
    JEF United Chiba 1 0 1986 -
    Busan IPark 1 0 1985–86 -
    FC Seoul 0 2 - 2001–02, 2013
    Al-Ahli 0 2 - 1985–86, 2012
    Zob Ahan Isfahan 0 1 - 2010
    Adelaide United 0 1 - 2008
    Sepahan 0 1 - 2007
    Al-Karamah 0 1 - 2006
    BEC Tero Sasana 0 1 - 2002–03
    Dalian Shide 0 1 - 1997–98
    Al-Nassr 0 1 - 1995
    Al-Arabi 0 1 - 1994–95
    Oman Club 0 1 - 1993–94
    Al-Shabab 0 1 - 1992–93
    Yokohama F. Marinos 0 1 - 1989–90
    Al-Rasheed 0 1 - 1988–89
    Al-Shorta 0 1 - 1971
    Yangzee 0 1 - 1969
    Selangor 0 1 - 1967
    Top scorers Year Footballer Club Goals
    2002–03 Hao Haidong Dalian Shide 9
    2004 Kim Do-hoon Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma 9
    2005 Mohamed Kallon Al-Ittihad 6
    2006 Magno Alves Gamba Osaka 9
    2007 Mota Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma 7
    2008 Nantawat Tansopa Krung Thai Bank 9
    2009 Leandro Gamba Osaka 10
    2010 Jose Mota Suwon Samsung Bluewings 9
    2011 Lee Dong-Gook Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 9
    2012 Ricardo Oliveira Al Jazira 12
    2013 Muriqui Guangzhou Evergrande 13
    Fair Play Award Year Club
    2008 Gamba Osaka
    2009 Pohang Steelers
    2010 Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma
    2011 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors
    2012 Ulsan Hyundai
    2013 FC Seoul

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