As the football world gradually recovering from the impactful COVID-19 pandemic, the Asian Football Confederations (AFC) mulls a plan to resume its flagship club competition, the AFC Champions League (ACL) as soon as possible, pending necessary procedures and regulations.
The 2020 edition was played for a few fixtures sans Chinese clubs, which country suffered heavily due to the pandemic, until its halt in March.
ASEAN representatives Chiangrai United and Johor Darul Ta’zim FC are among the teams competing this season.
Two online meetings conducted by the AFC on Wednesday outlined principles taken by the governing body to complete the remaining fixtures for ACL 2020 season, to the agreement by all competing Member Associations (MAs).
The MAs representing Australia, China PR, Japan, Korea Republic, Malaysia and Thailand in the East Zone, and Islamic Republic of Iran, Iraq, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan in the West Zone also committed to agreeing on a format and timetable for 99 remaining games as soon as possible.
In recognising travel and medical restrictions which differ across the continent, the AFC proposed a series of options to conclude the ACL prior to the start of the scheduled FIFA Club World Cup, which is set to be held in Qatar in December.
Furthermore, it was also agreed that while it was important to consider the commercial implications, the sporting integrity of the competition as well as the safety and wellbeing of all stakeholders are also of the highest priority.
Responses from the MAs have been constructive and followed by the AFC’s plan to present the format and the dates of the club competitions for the final review. This proposal will be submitted to the AFC Competitions Committee for approval.
On another note, the AFC also holds a series of online meetings with the MAs involved in the 2020 AFC Cup to agree on similar arrangements as the former.
Following a call on Tuesday with the West Zone, there will be further discussions with South, Central, ASEAN and East MAs this week.
Besides club competitions, the AFC also communicates with participating MAs on the Preliminary Joint Asian Qualifiers Round 2, centralised AFC U-16 and U-19 championships and the AFC Futsal Championship.
Concerning the ASEAN region, several FAs have already laid their plans to resume football activities.
This week, the Vietnam league is set to restart, and July will see Thai and Laotian leagues getting back in action as well as the Philippines league for 2020.
Further south the Malaysian and Indonesian leagues are scheduled to play their fixtures throughout September, while the Singapore Premier League still uncertain to restart, as the country is heavily affected by the pandemic.
The Bruneian | KUALA LUMPUR