'ACL revamp essential' | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 17, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, May 17, 2008

'ACL revamp essential'

Mohamed Bin Hammam

With D-Day scheduled for May 20, when the AFC Pro-League ad-hoc committee announces the list of countries eligible to participate in the revamped AFC Champions League (ACL) next year, AFC president Mohamed Bin Hammam said he would like to make the elite competition comparable to its European relative.
"Professionalism in life means discipline, quality, accuracy, caring and a desire to continuously raise one's standards in all spheres. When these principles are inserted into the management of clubs, leagues and players aiming for top quality football, the product is bound to be remarkable. This is what a professional league is all about," said Hammam, who is spearheading the new wave of professionalism in the continent.
Replying to a question, the AFC boss said his organisation has selected the ACL because it is the biggest club competition and the jewel in the crown of Asian football.
"We did the groundwork by introducing slow reforms since 2002 but the time has come now to click up a gear for not just the Champions League but all competitions. We want the Champions League to be our crème-de-la-crème and match the best football in the world. The AFC Champions League should be comparable to top European football."
He was, however, dismissive of the fears that due to the strict assessment criteria adopted by AFC, quality playing talent might be penalised for lack of infrastructure and other peripheral issues.
"I can assure everyone that quality players will not be penalised in anyway just because their clubs don't have the right infrastructure. The all-round steps and reforms we have undertaken will ensure that a player will have more opportunities to play outside his own country, in other leagues, get paid more, all depending on how talented he is and how much his services are in demand. We are unleashing the market forces in Asian club football for the benefit of all."
He added that countries which do not meet the criteria for the new AFC Champions League, will play in the AFC Cup.
"From 2009 onwards, only those countries and clubs which meet the FIFA Club Licensing Regulations will be eligible to play in the AFC Cup. FIFA has set a deadline for all confederations to have their own club licensing regulations by the 2009-10 season and AFC is determined to meet it.
"The member associations are to transform the confederation's club licensing regulations into national club licensing regulations and implement the club licensing system at the national level by the 2010-11 season at the latest. If countries/clubs do not qualify for the AFC Cup then they will play at the lower level in the AFC President's Cup.
Hammam praised the pro-league committee, saying he was very happy and proud with the work they have done.
"They have produced documents and guidelines of very high quality and if implemented it will ensure the advancement of our football. They have exceeded our expectations."

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