Asian Champions League for Women to Kick Off in 2023
Asia’s football governing body has confirmed that a women’s AFC Champions League will be introduced in 2023, with the upcoming international club competition looking to boost the strength of the female game across the continent.
Asia produced the 2011 Women’s World Cup winners when Japan won it, and boasts other strong women teams such as China and Australia, but Asian women’s football is well behind Europe and the United States in terms of club popularity.
For the first time since the competition started in 1991, no Asian team reached the quarter-finals at the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France. Remember, major tournaments are available for fans on Betway soccer betting and other top bookies.
However, according to Bai Lili, the Asian Football Confederation’s head of women’s football, the Asian Football Confederation is planning to launch a female edition of the Champions League in two years.
Speaking at the AFC’s headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, Bai, who represented China at the 2004 Athens Olympics, told AFP that the move is set to greatly improve Asian women soccer.
“If we are organising a club competition, that means the participants need to meet the criteria for the club licensing, the leagues need to be well organised. That is definitely going to help the domestic leagues. It will give exposure to the non-national team players”.
The Asian Football Confederation has begun laying the foundation. They held the first pilot Women’s Club Championship in South Korea in 2019, with four teams from Japan, China, Australia, and South Korea participating over a number of days.
The second edition will take place this year, followed by a third in 2022, before the Women’s Champions League officially begins in 2023.
According to Bai, the specifics are still being ironed out, and it is unclear how many teams will compete in the Champions League’s inaugural edition or its exact format.
The men’s Champions League, which will feature 40 clubs from the world’s most populated continent this year, is divided into east and west zones for group stages and knockout rounds, with the winners of each zone meeting in the final.
Although the Women’s Asian Cup, in which national teams play every four years, already exists, Bai believes that a major club competition would improve the women’s game in Asia in the same way that it has in Europe.
The 42-year-old believes the UEFA Women’s Champions League, which began as a cup competition in 2001, has played an important role in the game’s growth in the country.
Because of holding the tournament, European women’s football has progressed massively, but Bali believes that they also started from some point to get to where they are today.
The 47 member associations of the AFC range from East Asia, the region with the top women’s teams not only in the continent but also in the world, to Middle Eastern countries like Iran and war-ravaged Yemen.
Bai lamented that social stigma and differing religious views are among the obstacles to women playing football.
“The level is quite uneven, the biggest job for us is to bridge the gap”.
However, she applauded the positive changes she’s witnessed over the five years she has been at the helm of Asian women football. Betting fans can look forward to more betting opportunities when Betway will incorporate AFC Women’s Champions League into their platform.
The WSU Team bringing you news and updates from the world of women’s football.