AFC U-23 Asian Cup to shift to four-year cycle, U-17 Cup now annual event

AFC U-23 Asian Cup will transition to a four-year schedule starting in 2028, while the AFC U-17 Asian Cup will now be an annual event, aligning with the FIFA U-17 World Cup.

Update: 2024-05-24 10:10 GMT

AFC Asian Cup 

The AFC U-23 Asian Cup, a crucial platform for emerging talent, will now take place every four years starting from 2028, a shift from its previous biennial occurrence. This alteration aims to allow for more comprehensive player development programs and strategic planning.

The decision was taken during the AFC Competitions Committee convened for its third meeting in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates, where a slew of strategic decisions were greenlit.

Conversely, the AFC U-17 Asian Cup will transition to an annual event, aligning with the FIFA U-17 World Cup. This move is designed to provide consistent support and preparation for Asian teams participating in the global youth championship.

Furthermore, in response to FIFA's decision to host both men's and women's editions of the U-17 World Cup annually, the AFC U-17 Asian Cup will undergo reforms to accommodate this change. The AFC's allocation of slots in the expanded 48-team FIFA U-17 World Cup has prompted the Committee to streamline the AFC U-17 Asian Cup Qualifiers and Finals, ensuring a more straightforward and efficient process for participating teams.

The rationale behind these adjustments stems from a commitment to sporting merit and the progressive development of Asian youth football. By providing more competitive opportunities at the continental level, teams can hone their skills and readiness for global competitions, all while simplifying the hosting requirements for future tournaments.

Looking ahead, the Committee outlined competition format principles for the AFC U-17 Asian Cup, effective from the 2026 edition. The Administration has been tasked with finalizing and implementing these plans, pending confirmation from FIFA regarding entry status and tournament details.

Additionally, hosting rights for upcoming tournaments were announced, with the Chinese Football Association securing the AFC U20 Asian Cup 2025 and the Saudi Arabian Football Federation hosting the AFC U17 Asian Cup 2025.

Finally, in anticipation of the revamped three-tier club structure set to debut later this year, the Committee also approved the 2024/25 Competition Regulations for the AFC Champions League Elite, AFC Champions League Two, and AFC Challenge League.

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