FIFPRO Asia/Oceania report of AFC Champions League assesses the cost of competition for players and clubs

FIFPRO Asia/Oceania has published a report on key financial findings from the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) flagship club competition, the AFC Champions League (ACL).

The report, AFC Champions League Analysis Report: Counting the cost for players and clubs, was produced alongside sporting intelligence agency Twenty First Group (TFG).

This analysis is in response to the announcement of AFC Champions League Elite (ACLE) commencing in July this year, as revealed by the AFC in December 2022.

Based on TFG’s analysis, insights and feedback from participating players and clubs, the report addresses the feasibility of running ACLE with key factors including on-field quality and competitive balance, attendances and fan engagement, economics for clubs and players, travel and workload, competition design, and football development outcomes.

The research undertaken focusses on the value of introducing ACLE, based on the current operations of the ACL.

“This report analyses the merits and drawbacks of the current AFC Champions League based on various data and the results indicate that the merits do not outweigh the drawbacks for most players and clubs, making it an unsustainable system,” FIFPRO Asia/Oceania Chair Takuya Yamazaki outlines in the report.

“However, this does not mean that the future of football in Asia is bleak. On the contrary, we believe that this economically significant region can lead a discussion for truly sustainable competition formats.”

The report is the most comprehensive public analysis of the ACL and includes recommendations for what the AFC should be implementing.

“For players, the development of competitions is central to their employment conditions and future opportunities. As its primary workforce, the players are determined to play their role to shape a sustainable and innovation-driven future for the football sector in Asia,” Yamazaki added.

World Leagues Forum is involved in representing professional football leagues on a global level. General Secretary Jerome Perlemuter explained that collaboration between all stakeholders in the Asian region would help shape and deliver sustainable competitions.

“FIFPRO’s contribution to shaping the future of Asian continental competitions is most welcome,” Perlemuter said.

“Sustainable football development requires confederations, leagues and players to work together with a common objective to shape high potential continental competitions in a consistent global calendar. In this context, it is important to consider economic, geographical and cultural specificities. We look forward to continuing these discussions with FIFPRO and all stakeholders.”

To see the report in full, you can do so here.

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Liam Watson is the Co-Founder & Publisher of Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy, industry matters and technology.

FC Barcelona and EBC Financial Group confirm collaboration

FC Barcelona has broadened its presence in the foreign exchange industry by partnering with EBC Financial Group (EBC).

This collaboration spans 3.5 years establishing the financial institution as FC Barcelona’s Official Partner in Foreign Exchange. The partnership encompasses regions such as APAC, LATAM, the Middle East, and Africa.

This collaboration signifies a momentous achievement for EBC, as it aligns the brand with FC Barcelona’s esteemed legacy and worldwide influence. Through this exclusive arrangement, EBC gains the exceptional privilege to conduct specialized business operations within the foreign exchange sector.

The partnership encompasses various services such as foreign exchange transactions, trading, brokering (including CFDs), and advisory services. Additionally, it presents an unparalleled opportunity to strengthen FC Barcelona’s connection with its partners, supporters, and Culers in these regions, while advancing its global expansion strategy through strategic partnerships in diverse sectors.

Marketing Area Vice President at FC Barcelona, Juli Guiu, released a statement regarding this partnership.

“This partnership coincides with FC Barcelona’s global expansion plan in recent years, I’m sure that this will help the Club open up a wealth of opportunities in the financial sector through these 3.5 years of partnership with the well-renowned EBC Financial Group.

“With the untapped potentials we see in the Asia Pacific region, as well as the growing economies in South & Central America, Mexico, Africa, and Middle East, we’re excited to build more connections with brands, partners, supporters and Culers in these regions.”

APAC Director of Operations at EBC Financial Group, Samuel Hertz, also added a statement for this collaboration.

“Even though EBC is only four years old, we’ve only grown because we demand the best from ourselves and the industry. We’ve delved deep into FC Barcelona’s storied history, learning from their culture of mentorship where the experienced guide the new, and the new inspire the younger, creating a continuum of growth and excellence.

“This isn’t just a partnership; it’s a shared journey towards greatness, embodying a culture where success is not just about winning but about fostering values, nurturing talent, and contributing positively to society. We’re inspired by Barca’s way of doing things, their culture where veterans nurture newcomers, passing on wisdom and passion.”

Operating from strategically positioned offices in key financial hubs including London, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Sydney, the Cayman Islands, Singapore, Bangkok, Limassol, and beyond, EBC serves a varied clientele comprising retail, professional, and institutional investors across the globe.

Assessing the path of A-League Women to become full-time

To ensure there is a deep-rooted legacy from the 2023 Women’s World Cup, the A-League Women becoming a full-time profession should be a matter of importance to develop the Australian game.

As the competition improves, the expectations on individual players increases, whereas the careers provided to them are not yet adequate for most players to financially support themselves merely through football.

Until the players are provided with full-time year-round employment structure, majority of the sportswomen are in the firing line juggling the physical and mental aspects of their commitments to football and part-time employment, of which three in five of those players work outside of football.

This topic of discussion was raised back in February during a two-day women’s football congress that was hosted by the players’ union, Professional Footballers Australia (PFA).

Under the 2021-2026 A-Leagues Collective Bargaining Agreement, the base limit was $20,608 in 2022-23 season for a 29-week contract for the ALW, with most of the players earned at or close to the minimum that season.

However, the remuneration for the past season rose to $25,000, which for the very first time it was transformed to a full home-and-away schedule, the current athletes are under contract for a 22 round regular season for 35 weeks, along with four extra weeks for finals.

Former Matilda and PFA executive member Elise Kellond-Knight expressed her opinion on this matter.

“We need aspirational leaders. We don’t need a long-term, 10-year strategy to get to full-time professionalism. Like, this is 2024. We need it tomorrow. We needed it yesterday,” she said.

“It’s important that the girls understand where we’ve come from and how much hard work we’ve had to do. Things don’t get handed to female athletes you have to stand up, you have to ask for it, you have to fight for it.

“It’s really important that we embed that philosophy in the next generation to come.”

In contrast to the A-League Men, just 15 percent had some type of job outside of their football commitments, 93 percent of those individuals worked less than 10 hours on a weekly basis.

The survey comments portray an evocative of the not so sustainable football/work/life balance the individuals have to commit to:

“I don’t want to feel like I have to work between seasons (for example: most of us do not get paid in the off season). It is a lot to juggle, especially going away for national team camps and the immense amount of traveling. I feel this weight on my shoulders from my work obligations.”

“If my work and football commitments clash, I am expected by my coach to skip work (where I get paid more and am respected more), and I am expected by my boss to skip soccer, and neither care if you suffer financially or reputation wise for it.”

According to the survey, it was made aware that all but three clubs had failed to provide players the desired two-month in advance training calendar as well as the seven day notice period, which makes matters even more complicated for those coping with various jobs to plan in advance.

The PFA admit changes such as this won’t occur overnight, generally speaking, to implement full-time professional contracts is the righteous thing to do for women players, but as the PFA report put it “should also be seen as an investment, not a cost.”

The full-time pay is such a significant goal for women’s football in this country, but the clubs can ease their path to that goal and can do a whole lot more to make sure those changes are modified sooner rather than later.

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