Asian Champions League selection criteria is unfair

dasilva Roar Guru

By dasilva, dasilva is a Roar Guru

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    What is the purpose of a team participating in a football match? In my opinion the answer is simple: the goal is for the team to kick more goals than the opposition.

    That is what is football is about.

    When we determine who wins the league, it’s determined by whoever won the most matches (combined with the points gathered with drawing the match) in a season.

    How do clubs ensure that they win the most games in the season?

    The clubs try their best to ensure their club win by creating a good working environment to ensure optimal results, good training pitch, purchasing players and the right coaches. To achieve all that they need revenue by attracting crowds and memberships as well as the ability to attract sponsors etc.

    All these factors are key performance indicators towards the success of the club.

    Now imagine if we didn’t decide who won the league based on who achieved the most points in the year but instead on key performance indicators.

    For instance, if the FFA was to rate each individual club on their organisational ability, the technical standards of the players, the quality of stadium and training pitch, crowd attendance, marketing and promotion of the club, revenue and grants, and then whoever does the best in these categories would win the A-League trophy.

    It would be a joke.

    That’s exactly how the AFC determine how many clubs join the Asian Champions League. They don’t allocate spots based on performance on the pitch but on key performance indicators.

    They allocate points based on organisation, technical standards, attendance, governance, marketing, business scale, game operation, media and stadia.

    Australia failed to excel in these KPIs as our league isn’t independently run, we don’t have 12 Australian teams in the A-League, our football season doesn’t last for 10 months, we don’t have promotion relegation and we don’t have a cup competition.

    In my opinion all these KPIs are important in developing the technical standards and improving the performance of our clubs. Having more clubs means having more players playing full time at a professional level.

    Having a promotion and relegation system is good for youth development where often younger players get to play professional football at a lower level and a cup competition would assist greatly in scouting players and in connecting the grass roots with the professional levels.

    A longer football season is absolutely crucial to ensure that players to develop and stay match fit throughout the year. It would be great to have if it was financially affordable. However the FFA has decide that it isn’t financially viable right now and implementing it would be harmful to Australian Football.

    The point of these KPIs is to assist and improve the technical standards of the A-League and to improve performance of the clubs participating in the ACL.

    They are not the end game itself.

    Some of the criteria are subjective and are debateable on whether it is a positive thing to implement. Whether promotion and relegation, extended seasons and an FA-style Cup are a good thing or not are influenced by cultural, economical and geographical issues and should not be mandated as something every league must have.

    It should be up to the individual confederation whether to introduce them or not. Right now the current management has decided that so far it isn’t affordable and in the interests of Australian football to implement all the AFC recommendation and that decision should be respected.

    The goal of each football governing body is to ensure that their clubs win matches in the Champions league. Each league should be given some flexibility on how they want to achieve these goals.

    In my opinion, these criteria should be aspirational targets and guidelines. The inclusion to the ACL should be based on one thing, performance in the tournament. The AFC should copy UEFA and implement an AFC Country Coefficient based on performance in the Asian Champion League to determine how many teams get included in the ACL with the maximum of four teams or 1/3 of the league whichever is higher because performance on the field is the essence to what football is all about.

    If the leagues don’t implement AFC recommendations and it turns out their refusal to implement it was a bad idea, then that would reflect in the results and they will be punished for it by a reduced number of teams.

    If they refuse to implement it and it turns out it was a good idea then that would reflect positively on the result and would prove that the criteria aren’t universally a good thing and Asian football will benefit by allowing flexibility in how every country decides to run its league.

    If the ACL was purely determined by results on the pitch and it was determined that the A-League only deserved one full spot and one playoff spot then I would accept that as a fair result as the process was merit based.

    In fact, considering Adelaide United are the only Australian club that is consistently competitive in the ACL, I doubt Australia deserves anything more than two spots in the ACL anyway.

    However I just don’t accept punishing leagues based on subjective criteria and having the AFC trying to force square pegs into round holes by forcing leagues to implement policy that may be detrimental to the development of football in their region.

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    The Crowd Says (20)

    • December 1st 2012 @ 7:13am
      MV Dave said | December 1st 2012 @ 7:13am | ! Report

      As long as we have 2 spots open, being Champions and Premiers, then that is good enough for now. As the HAL gets stronger and is able to continue evolving hopefully into the top league in Asia then the ACL situation will change. ACL is the icing on the cake but lets make sure the cake is right first…

      • Roar Guru

        December 1st 2012 @ 7:17am
        Cappuccino said | December 1st 2012 @ 7:17am | ! Report

        Totally agree, HAL growth should be the priority.

    • Roar Guru

      December 1st 2012 @ 7:16am
      Cappuccino said | December 1st 2012 @ 7:16am | ! Report

      I agree that the situation is unfair, and that the A-League should definitely be awarded three slots. But the decision has been made- now the ball is in the FFA’s court. Promotion/Relegation, a Cup competition, 12 teams+ and a longer season are all long-term goals. If we can start implementing these things sooner (obviously expansion, promotion can’t be rushed), particularly easier tasks like long season and an FFA Cup, not only will this problem be solved but Australian football will be moving forward at the same time.

    • Roar Guru

      December 1st 2012 @ 10:34am
      dasilva said | December 1st 2012 @ 10:34am | ! Report

      I don’t really have a problem with 2 spots. I just don’t like the process in which we lost the spot. I suspect that if it was done purely on performance that we would have been lucky to hold on to 3 spots.

      The AFC goal is to raised the standard of football so that Asian clubs are just as good as South american and european clubs

      So I get that they want sides to raised their game and implementing some of these criterias

      However the end game is the technical standards and strength of the Asian clubs.

      All these criterias are means to the end not the end itself

      By selecting clubs not by performance on the pitch or even technical standards (I prefer performance on the pitch but considering that the stated goal of AFc is to raised technical standards so they can better compete with other confederation I can accept technical standards as well) they forget what’s important and why they want the criteria to be implemented

      FA cup, length of seasons, promotion relegation are the means to raised the standard of football but are not the reflection of standard of football in of itself

      By selecting clubs based on KPI but not on the finished products (which is quality of the teams) then you no longer selecting the best club teams on asia and you not rewarding countries who are the strongest in Asia.

    • December 1st 2012 @ 10:41am
      jamesb said | December 1st 2012 @ 10:41am | ! Report

      I’m saying no to promotion/ relegation, but a cup competition, expand to 12 teams, and expand the season, those three things can be achieved in the next 4 to 5 years.

      I also think we have ourselves to blame. We started the a_league with just 8 teams, which should’ve been ten. Also we had to fold two expansion teams in Fury and GCU.

      Let the A-League have stabilty for the next few years, and than it will start to see the benefits.

      But like I said earlier, i say no to promotion and relegation.

      • December 1st 2012 @ 1:51pm
        gurudoright said | December 1st 2012 @ 1:51pm | ! Report

        Unfortunately AFC only sees the A-League with 9 teams as they do not view Wellington Phoenix as an Australian hence AFC team. So to expand to a minimum of a 12 (Australian team) league, the A-League needs to expand to another 3 teams for their 12 team criteria

    • December 1st 2012 @ 10:50am
      Towser said | December 1st 2012 @ 10:50am | ! Report


      The AFC gave us a lifeline 6 years ago(no need to rehash why, to regulars like yourself).
      The alternative, being back in Oceania is too frightening for me to contemplate.
      So whilst I may not agree with the decisions of the AFC(especially the standard of football bit) I’m more philosophical about what they do.
      IMO bite the hand that feeds you & they may not feed you again.
      So as others have said above ,we keep on improving what we have to meet the 600 point criteria & we’ll be better off anyway for it,including the standard of football.

      • Roar Guru

        December 1st 2012 @ 11:33am
        dasilva said | December 1st 2012 @ 11:33am | ! Report

        If the choice is to accept the criteria or leave the AFC

        Of course I prefer to accept the criteria

        However, maybe I’m naive but I like to think that we were accepted in Asia as a productive member of the confederation where suggestions from Australia are valued and we as long as all the other Asian nation play a role in running the game.

        I’m not saying FFA give an ultimatum to AFC to change the criteria but more of FFA give suggestion to how to improve the ACL.

        Australia sometimes get criticise for not respecting other cultures and I think them demanding australia to implement some of these criteria are the case of AFC not really appreciating the unique cultural, economic and geographical issues that prevent Australia from implementing some of these suggestions

    • Roar Guru

      December 1st 2012 @ 11:42am
      dasilva said | December 1st 2012 @ 11:42am | ! Report

      I’ll also add that these criteria seems to be subjected to political machinations

      One of the criteria was no fixed game in the past 3 seasons (that was the criteria for the 2011-2012 ACL) to get points in Governance/Soundness

      However because Korea and china had match fixing issues. They ended up changing the criteria to remove match fixing as a criteria for governance as long as they are process being done to stop match fixing and the match fixing was punished.

      Now of course it does seem ridiculous to cut spots to Korea who are dominant team in the ACL or to cut spot to China who are the economic superpower of the region. So they ended up chanigng the goal post to ensure that Korea and China don’t lose a spot

      A simple criteria of purely based on performance avoid the politicisation of allocating teams and prevents accusation of manipulating criteria to ensure certain nations get the most spots

      • December 1st 2012 @ 12:22pm
        TC said | December 1st 2012 @ 12:22pm | ! Report

        If corruption was a major consideration, there’d be no teams playing anywhere.


      • December 1st 2012 @ 2:46pm
        Red Block said | December 1st 2012 @ 2:46pm | ! Report

        Wow! Politics in football, who would have thought? What has changed since the Qatar debacle?

        If there’s one thing I’ve learnt about football, it is that self interest is the ultimate master. So, it leads to another question ‘who stands to benefit most from this decision?’

        Simple answer, the countries with the best run leagues. Japan, Korea.

        • Roar Guru

          December 1st 2012 @ 3:01pm
          dasilva said | December 1st 2012 @ 3:01pm | ! Report

          It’s true that politics and football are intertwined. Doesn’t mean that I have to like it or that I can’t point out how the political influence results in unfair criteria. This article is discussing the basic principles behind the criteria rather than take in consideration the politics behind it.

          If the selection was done purely on performance than Korea and Japan would probably be benefit from it as well. So would Qatar as Al-Sadd won the ACL in 2011.

          So it’s not like the politically strong nation wouldn’t benefit from performance based criteria and this would remove any criticism of unfairness

          Sport is about performing on the day and proving you are the best, the best run leagues will be reflected in the results. It’s not about creating arbitrary criteria and determining who is the best. If that’s true what’s the point of playing a football match

          the ACL criteria of inclusion goes against the spirit of sport.

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