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Kuala Lumpur: The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Club Licensing Task Force emphasised the importance of improving the quality of the competition with a specific focus on the AFC Cup competition, at its first meeting in Kuala Lumpur, home of the AFC headquarters on Friday.

As part of efforts to assist the AFC Member Associations (MA) in this endeavour, the Taskforce agreed to implement a new club licensing system for the AFC Cup competition, which will be introduced in phases annually, before being made mandatory for all clubs participating in the AFC Cup by 2018. The new regulations, which mirrors the process and procedures of the ACL club licensing system albeit fewer criteria, will now be put forward to the AFC Executive Committee for approval.

The new AFC Cup regulations have been formulated with a greater emphasis on development, enabling Member Associations to build the essential foundations to establish a more professional and competitive local league.

The Taskforce also noted the commendable progress made with the AFC Champions League (ACL) club licensing system. Since its introduction, the number of clubs implementing the ACL system has grown from just 42 in 2011 to 179 in 2015. The exponential rise positions the AFC as one of the leading Confederation’s in the world to grow the breadth and implementation of the system.

Chairman Shoji Fujumura reiterated the pivotal role of the taskforce as underlined by the AFC’s new Vision and Mission to enhance the AFC’s competition as a driving force to ensure the success of teams and players in the continent.

Members were also pleased to note the new regulations also represented the first steps towards ensuring a unified club licensing system for all MAs, paving way for a more professional landscape of club football in the continent.

The taskforce Chairman, Shoji Fujumura (Japan) was joined by Deputy Chairman Ahmed Mohamed Sultan Al Harami (Qatar), as well as members Paul Woodland (Hong Kong), Akshay Rohatgi (India), Kok Wai Leong (Singapore) and Omar Al Hai Khadem Al Muhairi (UAE).