The absence of the sports culture is no longer in the argument when we are mentioning football in Asia. Over the years, the continent has proved to be a rearing ground for various high-class players who have shown their worth in international football. Seen as the next bigger market for football, Asia appears to be climbing the heights of sports. Earlier known as the Asian Club Championship, the Asian AFC champions League was started in 2002. Identified as the most important football club of the continent, AFC allows 32 teams to compete for the final prize; to be selected for FIFA World Cup. The scrutiny for the selection gives the league its most sought name. Currently, there are two champions – Al-Hilal and Pohang Steelers.
Football in the continent has gained a decent ground and is a normal affair in Asia. However, there is still a lot that needs to be done to bring the sport on par with its European counterparts. The AFC has 8 groups comprising of 32 teams that re to contest each other. Even though the League is a modern initiative, but the genesis of such a contest dates back to 1967 when it operated in the name of the Asian Club Championship. The arena is packed with people, football lovers and theirs is a whopping amount to entice the players. The countries fight their way to the final prize of the World Cup. The final price also includes $120,000.
Audience and sponsorship:
Though it may seem meager compared to the European championships, given the popularity of the sport in the continent, AFC gathers millions around their televisions. However, the earlier reading was lesser, but due to the mass promotion, the sport is gaining overwhelming ground. Post-2011, the viewership of the league saw a significant rise, especially during the Beijing Vs Tokyo match where the figures of the audience were put 13.5 million. IN addition to that, thanks to the sponsors of the game, and the popular support, a huge number of sponsors are expected to pop up in the next years. As of now, the multi-national sponsors like Fly Emirates, Molten, Nikon, Toyota, Seiko, and PES are well-known to be associated with the League.
AFC is recognized as one of the popular leagues of the world and given that the game has managed to entice and provoke the enthusiasm of the population, the electronic version, say the video games are known merchandise of the League. This has further added to the popularity of pf the sport. The two champions – Al-Hilal and Pohang steelers- have produced tremendous talents like Choi Jin-Cheul and Hai Haidong. The former has three wins and four runner-up’s in its account with the latter having three also from 1997,98 and 2009. Al-Hilal registered its third win in 2009. The proposal on the table if approved will allow 40 teams to compete in future matches.
AFC is one of the names that merits respect. In comparison to its European counterparts, the League has managed to cut across the various ethnic and religious barriers, uniting them in football. Not only that, it acts as an institution that has not just introduced new talent to the world but has allowed the players to nurture and excel in their skills.