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Kuala Lumpur: The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Competitions Committee will continue to work with the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) and the United Arab Emirates Football Association (UAEFA) to ensure the uninterrupted broadcast of AFC Champions League and FIFA World Cup qualifying matches to protect the Confederation’s commercial rights.

Following the recent developments in the Gulf, the AFC Competitions Committee meeting in Doha, under the chairmanship of Saoud Al Mohannadi who recused himself for this discussion, expressed its gratitude to the SAFF and UAEFA for their efforts in assisting the AFC in the broadcast of the up-coming games.

Lin Xiaohua, who chaired the Committee for the discussion, said: “This is an extremely complex situation but we are pleased to have received reassurances from SAFF and UAEFA that they have no objection to the AFC delivering the international television feed for the games in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

“The Committee recognises that it is important that the AFC commercial rights be defended and we are confident that the positive work, which is taking place to ensure the matches go ahead, continues. We also noted the extensive diplomatic efforts that are being made on a daily basis.”

The AFC will continue to monitor regularly the situation on an operational basis and look to the continued co-operation of the SAFF and the UAEFA in ensuring the millions of fans across Asia, who tune into these matches, will still receive their service.

The AFC will also continue to liaise with FIFA over the two important World Cup qualifying matches to be played in the UAE and Saudi Arabia as the 2018 FIFA World Cup Asian Qualifiers Final Round is under its jurisdiction.

Following a recommendation from the All India Football Federation (AIFF), the Competitions Committee gave special dispensation for the Indian Super League (ISL) which will be played simultaneously with the I-League for six or seven months in 2017 and 2018 as a temporary short-term ‘bridging solution’.

AIFF’s recommendation to the AFC was that the ISL will replace the Federation Cup, whose winner is currently allocated an AFC Cup preliminary stage place. 

Therefore, the Committee approved that the I-League champions will play in the AFC Champions League Play-off round and the ISL Champions will play in the AFC Cup preliminary stage – as long as all clubs adhere to the AFC rules and regulations, particularly club licensing, from 2018.

The situation will be reviewed on a yearly basis with conditions which, in addition to adherence to club licensing regulations, include promotion, production, a player allocation system and the following of the Road Map agreed between the AFC and Indian football stakeholders at a meeting in Kuala Lumpur on June 7, 2017.

The AFC Champions League, already the second richest continental club competition, will benefit from the redistribution of the TV pool to reward successful teams in the knock-out stage in 2018 with each team earning an additional USD50,000 for every win and a team drawing a match will get USD10,000.

This will be in addition to the participation fees in each stage of the competition, resulting in USD3m for the AFC Champions League winners and USD1.5m to the runners-up, as the AFC looks to incentivise the better performing clubs.

The Committee approved the Qatar FA national team’s participation in the Preliminary Joint Qualifiers for 2022 FIFA World Cup and the 2023 Asian Cup. As Qatar is the host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup the team would qualify automatically for that competition.

If Qatar do not finish among the top 12 qualifiers who will play in the Asian Final Round Qualifiers they will continue to take part in the AFC Asian Cup 2023 Qualifiers. If they finish among the top 12 teams Qatar can decide whether they continue to participate in the FIFA World Cup Final Road Qualifiers, subject to FIFA approval. Should they decide not to compete the next best team will qualify in their place.

The AFC U-19 Championship, which will be played between October 18 and November 4, 2018, was awarded to Indonesia. The Committee felt that, as Indonesia was regarded as the most favourable among the Bidding MAs, this would assist the country in its recovery and development of football after the recent FIFA ban. For the AFC U-16 Championship, Malaysia will host the event to be played between September 20 and October 7, 2018.