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Saudi Arabia Secures Hosting Rights for AFC’s Champions League Elite Finals


The Asian Football Confederation (AFC), the regional governing body for Asian football, has unveiled Saudi Arabia as the host for the inaugural editions of the revamped Champions League Elite, the continent’s newly upgraded top-tier club competition. The Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) secured hosting rights for the final phase during the 2024-25 and 2025-26 seasons, triumphing over the Iraq Football Association after a comprehensive evaluation of infrastructure, accommodation, and operational requirements.

The kingdom has been provisionally awarded hosting rights for an additional three years, pending an AFC review after the initial two seasons. The Champions League Elite replaces the existing AFC Champions League and is scheduled to kick off in September 2024, featuring the top 24 clubs divided into East and West leagues.

Teams will engage in home-and-away fixtures to secure a spot in the last 16, with the final phase taking place in Saudi Arabia. The kingdom will host the quarterfinals, semifinals, and final in a single-leg format. The first edition of the Champions League Elite final stage is slated for April 25 to May 4, 2025.

The AFC disclosed that the champions will receive a record-breaking prize purse of US$12 million, a significant increase from the US$4 million awarded to this year’s AFC Champions League winners. Runners-up will also see an uptick in prize money, receiving US$6 million compared to the US$2 million from the current season.

This development enhances Saudi Arabia’s role as an international football host, aligning with its hosting of FIFA’s upcoming Club World Cup in Jeddah from December 12 to 22. The kingdom, having submitted the sole bid, is also in contention to host the 2034 FIFA World Cup after Australia withdrew. Saudi Arabia has also bid to host the Women’s Asian Cup in 2026, further solidifying its presence on the global soccer stage.

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