AFC approves Asian Qualifiers dates

The AFC has confirmed new competition dates for the rest of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

The second round of the Asian Qualifiers is intended to be completed by June 15, 2021. Match Days 7 and 8 will take place in March 2021 while Match Days 9 and 10 will be played in June. The final round of qualifiers will then begin in September 2021.

Both the AFC and FIFA agreed that the final round of Asian Qualifiers should be finished by the end of March 2022. The Asian and Inter-Continental Play-offs are then slated for May/June 2022.

The new dates were approved by the AFC Competitions Committee.

A bidding process for the AFC U23 Asian Cup 2022 was also agreed upon. The hosting rights will be open to member associations in the West region of the AFC.

China was set to be the host for AFC U23 Asian Cup 2022, however the Chinese Football Association has told the AFC that it will be unable to stage the tournament. China is also due to host the AFC Asian Cup 2023.

The AFC said that it intends for the AFC U23 Asian Cup (in non-Olympic years) to be hosted by the country staging the next AFC Asian Cup. The AFC U23 Asian Cup will act as a preparatory competition for the host nation.

During the meeting the Chair of the AFC Competitions Committee, Dr. Tran Quoc Tuan thanked Qatar and the Qatar FA for successfully hosting the recent AFC Champions League (West) and for its preparations for the upcoming AFC Champions League (East).

“We have successfully completed the AFC Champions League in the West and in just a few days, we will kick-off the competition for the East region clubs. Our sincere thanks go to the Qatar Football Association and the Qatar Government as well as our congratulations to the AFC Administration,”.

“They have done an excellent job. I am sure they will build on their expertise to stage an outstanding tournament, including the Final on December 19. At all times the safety and health of all the players, teams and officials have been and remain our priority.”

The AFC Competitions Committee also confirmed that the AFC U-19 Championship, which was due to take place in Uzbekistan in October 2020 will now be played from March 3 to 20, 2021.

 

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Daniel Foley is a sports junior journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and micro industry matters.

Sport and Recreation Events Funding Program a key investment in Western Australia

Western Australia events are receiving significant support through the Sport and Recreation Events Funding Program 2023-24.

The WA State Government has invested over $630,000 to a host of sporting bodies across a vast number of codes.

The objectives of the program are to:

  • build capacity and capability of the sport and recreation workforce and volunteers to plan, secure and/or deliver quality sport and active recreation events
  • provide opportunities for talented WA athletes, coaches and officials to participate at a national and/or international level in their home environment
  • provide opportunities for the public to participate in sport and/or active recreation events
  • provide opportunities for regional Western Australians to experience and conduct major sporting events and sport development initiatives in a regional location.

The program comprises three categories:

  • event projects (up to $15,000)
  • event hosting (up to $50,000)
  • the Country Sport Enrichment Scheme (up to $30,000).

In Round 1 of the Sport and Recreation Events Funding Program 2023-24, one of the successful applicants was Football West, who ran 2024 Goldfields Regional Festival of Football – a seven-day community engagement event that improved football capacity in the wider Goldfields area. After receiving $24,200, Football West’s main goal is to increase participation in the region.

There is still time to apply for the next round of funding, which closes 5:00pm on February 26, 2024.

For full information and eligibility to apply, you can find it here.

WSL eyeing enormous 150% increase to broadcast rights deal

In a historic first for football in the UK, every single Women’s Super League match is set to be broadcasted live from next season across multiple channels.

The WSL tender document issued to broadcasters this month features all 132 league games, with 56 to be sold exclusively and the remaining 76 available on a non-exclusive basis.

Under the terms of the existing deal that expires at the end of the current season, Sky broadcast 35 matches-a-season and the BBC 22, with the rest streamed for free on the FA’s website.

The tender document is asking for a huge £20 million ($38.48 million) a year TV deal and this 150% increase to the value of its broadcasting deal is far from surprising following the explosion of the women’s game. This figure is set to be confirmed as soon as they can find the right suitors.

In an attempt to gain an increase from the existing £7.75 million ($14.91 million) a year deal, the WSL have responded by making every match available for broadcast, which the league hoped would attract bids from beyond current rights holders Sky Sports and the BBC, It looks to be working.

Sky Sports and the BBC are set to bid again on the rights and extend the current partnership whilst it is said that this potential deal is also attracting networks like TNT Sports and DAZN.

The Premier League and EFL have stood firm on the UEFA blackout that suggests all 3pm Saturday matches are not shown on TV, to encourage locals to attend matches in person. This means the WSL will have to work around it and it is likely that Saturday lunchtime and Sunday afternoons remain as the most common kick-off times.

There is little the WSL are having to do to persuade broadcasters into putting their hands up for these rights, which is a testament to the sport’s current growth and upward trajectory it is trending towards.

FA Director of Women’s football, Kelly Simmons, explained how important it was to secure this monumental broadcast deal.

“While we’ve been developing this it’s been so hard to sit on it because it’s so exciting for the women’s game. It is transformational,” Simmons said in an interview with Guardian Sport.

“When I first came into this role, we said that we really thought women’s football could really break into the mainstream and this is mainstream, this is prime slots on television, big audiences, week in week out.”

This deal in particular launches women’s football into the mainstream and helps improve the quality of the product which goes a long way to opening the eyes of a huge audience to its impact as a sport and socially.

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