SOCCER/ New Asian champions to earn $12 mln in prize money in club competition revamp

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SOCCER/ New Asian champions to earn $12 mln in prize money in club competition revamp REU

SOCCER/ New Asian champions to earn $12 mln in prize money in club competition revamp

REUTERS

June 19, 2024 at 15:25 JST

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Photo/IllutrationYokohama F Marinos' Kouta Watanabe scores in an Asian Champions League match against Al Ain at Yokohama International Stadium, Yokohama, May 11, 2024. (REUTERS)

HONG KONG--The winners of the new Asian Champions League Elite will pocket a minimum of $12 million, the Asian Football Confederation said on Wednesday in a major boost to club football in the region.

The competition, which kicks off with a preliminary round in August, is at the heart of a major revamp of club football across the continent and involves 27 clubs from 12 nations including Japan, South Korea, Australia and Saudi Arabia.

The first prize is a three-fold increase from the sum won by Al-Ain of the United Arab Emirates in May in the final edition of the Asian Champions League under its previous format.

Five clubs will feature in the preliminaries of the Asian Champions League Elite from Aug. 6 to 13, with two teams joining the 22 clubs to have directly qualified for the league stage.

Qatar’s Al-Gharafa will take on the winner of a tie between Shabab Al-Ahli from the UAE and an as-yet unknown Iranian qualifier while in the east China’s Shandong Taishan will face off against Bangkok United from Thailand.

The draw for the league phase, where clubs will be divided into western and eastern zones, will take place on Aug. 16, with fixture running from Sept. 16 to Feb. 19.

The top eight teams from each of the two sides of the confederation will progress to the last 16, which will be played on a home-and-away basis with the winners advancing to a finals series due to played in a centralized hub.

Saudi Arabia will host those matches as single-legged quarterfinals, semi-finals and final from April 25 to May 4.

The confederation also announced that winners of the Asian Champions League Two, the continent’s second tier club competition featuring 36 teams, will collect a minimum of $3.28 million.

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