Asian Football Confederation
Though its competing nations and clubs are not as widely recognised across the globe as some of the members of the more prominent European and South American federations, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has risen in prominence since the turn of the century on both the international and club stages. Internationally, Asian nations, such as South Korea in the 2002 FIFA World Cup, have advanced through the competition and rubbed shoulders with the world’s elite. At the club level, South Korea and Japan have continued to ensure the success of their domestic leagues, while the Chinese Super League has made waves in the global transfer market by acquiring some of the world’s top players. However, with the AFC’s consistent growth have come a number of challenges, most notably in regards to ensuring match quality and consumer satisfaction in a setting where European clubs and players still garner the most attention. While nations like South Korea, Japan, and Australia have represented the confederation well on the international stage, China and India, with the world’s two largest populations between them, are yet to establish themselves as forces to be reckoned with at the highest level of the game. The confederation is also set to host its second FIFA World Cup amidst much controversy as Qatar readies for the competition in 2022. As such, the AFC is currently positioned as a setting where football has not yet reached its full potential, and where a number of business and managerial issues remain ripe for investigation. This chapter provides a historical and modern outline of the AFC, while simultaneously exploring some of the trends and topics that linger within the boundaries of world football’s most populated governing body.