Kuala Lumpur: The AFC Joint Meeting for Professional Football, under Coordination Chairman Japanâ€™s Captain Saburo Kawabuchi, has recommended that the AFC Champions League Round of 16 be played on a home-and-away format from the 2013 edition.
The AFC Joint Committee for Professional Football met on Friday and included members of the AFC Ad-hoc Committees for Professional Clubs, Leagues and Member Associations.
In his opening remarks, Kawabuchi appreciated the leadership and vision of AFC President Mohamed Bin Hammam and asked the members to commit themselves towards the development of Asian football.
â€œI would like to appreciate the strong initiative and leadership of AFC President Mohamed Bin Hammam for the development of professional football in Asia and AFC Champions League,â€ said Kawabuchi.
â€œLetâ€™s commit ourselves to making efforts for further development of football in Asia with cooperation from everyone,â€ he said.
AFC Senior Vice-President Zhang Jilong expressed his hope that the work done by the three committees to professionalise the game in the continent would prove to be a milestone in Asian football.
â€œWe had three very fruitful and productive meetings yesterday and today itâ€™s time to sit together towards development of the Asian game,â€ said Zhang.
â€œAsia is rising, particularly in sports and football. A lot of work has been done in the past to professionalise the clubs but we are all here to contribute with our ideas, proposals and suggestions which can take it forward.â€
â€œYour job is quite important and it will be helpful for the AFC Executive Committee to take right steps,â€ he said.
Currently, the AFC Champions League Round of 16 is a one-off game between the top two teams from each of the eight groups.
The members also recommended that (from 2013 onwards) the first leg of the Round of 16 be played on May 14-15 and the return leg be scheduled for May 21-22. Clubs from the same region (East or West) will play each other determined by their position in the group (the first placed team will play the runners-up team of another group of the same region).
The members also agreed for amendments to the AFC Club Licensing Regulations with regards to ownership and control of clubs, particularly cross-ownership.
Additionally, the members of the three committees deliberated on countries and their slots for future AFC club competitions, branding issues at the stadiums during matches, youth development in clubs and, the naming conventions of clubs in Asia.
The decisions of this committee need to be ratified by the AFC Competitions Committee and finally by the AFC Executive Committee, which will meet on July 29, to take effect.
AFC Champions League, Asian Cup, and everything else domestic and international.
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