Kuala Lumpur [Malaysia], July 5 (ANI): The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Executive Committee on Monday approved the AFC Competitions Committee's recommendation to reschedule all Knockout Stage matches of the AFC Cup 2021 and AFC Champions League 2021 (from the quarter-finals onwards) from its current home and away format to the single-leg ties.
"Taking into consideration the existing uncertainties related to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the ongoing travel restrictions imposed across the continent, the AFC Executive Committee agreed that it was essential to minimise the travel frequency of the participating clubs while underlining its continued commitment towards ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all players, teams, officials and key stakeholders," stated an official release.
The AFC Executive Committee also approved the proposal for the AFC Champions League quarter-finals and semi-finals to be played in one centralised venue for the East and West Regions respectively and agreed to open the bidding process for the AFC Champions League 2021 single-leg final, which has been rescheduled to be held on November 23 (from the two-legged final on November 21 and 27), to the Participating Member Associations (PMAs) from the West Region.
The AFC Executive Committee also noted the impact caused by the evolving nature of the pandemic on the 2021 AFC Cup and the challenges faced, despite the best efforts of all stakeholders, in finalising the centralised hosts for the group stage.
Therefore, in anticipation of further challenges and to enable the AFC to adapt and act swiftly in fulfilling its commitment to complete the 2021 AFC Cup, the AFC Executive Committee agreed to maintain the overall structure of the competition, giving due consideration to the existing format in each zone.
It was decided that the competition will continue with the remaining matches and groups as much as possible, while at the same time, the matches across all stages which cannot be played due to matters arising from the COVID-19 pandemic will be cancelled and that such cancellations will be recognised as an event of Force Majeure.
In addition, the AFC Executive Committee also approved the new club competitions calendar for the 2022 AFC Champions League and AFC Cup seasons. Keeping in mind the continued risks and uncertainty of the pandemic and to ensure participating clubs are given sufficient preparation time, it was decided that the 2022 season will draw on the extensive experience of the successful and safe staging of the 2020 club competition season as well as the ongoing 2021 edition.
Therefore, the 2022 AFC Champions League and AFC Cup seasons will continue to be played in centralised venues, with the Knockout Stages also following the single-leg format of the current edition of both club competitions. In light of the changes of the respective match schedules and formats, the AFC has also revised the calculation method for the AFC Club Competitions Rankings 2021 and 2022. (ANI)