Saudi Arabia lands AFC Elite showpiece


Saudi Arabia to host AFC Champions League Image: Coliseum GSVA

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) confirmed on December 1st the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) as the Host Association for the AFC Champions League Elite – Final Stage for the 2024-2025 and 2025-2026 seasons.

‘AFC’ stated that the continent’s top 24 clubs will be divided into two leagues of 12 teams across the West and East regions, who will compete in a home and away league format for a place in the Round of 16, where the eight winners will advance to the Final Stage.

Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)-based the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) is the governing body of association football, beach soccer and futsal in most countries/territories in Asia. It has 47 members.

Riyadh (Saudi Arabia)-based the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) is the football governing body of Saudi Arabia. Founded in 1956, its responsibilities include administration of club competitions and national teams. The founder of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation is Prince Abdullah bin Faisal Al Saud.

The 2024-2025 AFC Champions League Elite (ACLE) is the 43rd edition of Asia’s top club football tournament. The final stage of the tournament will take place in Saudi Arabia from April 25th-May 4th, 2025. The final stage includes the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final. All matches will be single-leg ties.

The eventual winners are poised to claim the biggest-ever purse prize of USD12 million.

‘AFC’ further stated that the financial reward is three times more than the USD4 million that the eventual victors of the AFC Champions League™ will receive this season. Similarly, the losing finalist will also receive a threefold increase of USD6 million from the USD2 million for this season’s runners-up.

The AFC Champions League is an annual continental club football competition organized by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and contested by Asia’s top-division football clubs. It is the most prestigious club competition in Asian football played by the national league champions of their national associations.

On September 12th, 2023, the AFC had issued an invitation to all its Member Associations (MAs) to submit their Expressions of Interest (EOI) to host the AFC Champions League Elite – Final Stage for a minimum of two (2) seasons starting from 2024-2025.

Subsequently, two MAs – the Iraqi Football Association and the SAFF had submitted their EOIs within the stipulated deadline on October 15th, 2023.

The SAFF 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.

In accordance with the interest submitted, the SAFF was also awarded the hosting rights for the next three seasons from 2026-2027 to 2028-2029 provisionally, subject to the AFC’s review of the SAFF’s performance in the initial seasons and having due regard of the AFC’s general requirements with the hosting of the competition, whilst also taking into consideration the progressive needs for each season as well as any other Expressions of Interest received by other AFC MAs.

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