AFC gets billion-dollar boost

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> The Asian Football Confederation extended its agreement with marketing partner World Sport Group until 2020.

Updated: November 25, 2009 16:13 IST
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Kuala Lumpur:

The Asian Football Confederation on Tuesday extended its agreement with marketing partner World Sport Group until 2020, delivering an expected one billion dollars in revenue to the AFC.

The new agreement covers the AFC's marquee competitions, which include the Asian Cup in 2015 and 2019, the newly revamped AFC Champions League, and the Asian qualifying rounds for the 2014 and 2018 World Cups.

Other key events include Asian qualifying for the 2016 and 2020 Olympics, as well as the women's Asian Cup, and youth competitions.

"Asian football is scaling new heights and it is AFC's pleasure to renew our tight relationship with WSG, who were the first ones to recognise the incredible potential of the Asian game," said AFC president Mohamed bin Hammam.

"This is a landmark deal and shows what Asian football is capable of achieving.

"WSG have been steadfast in their commitment to AFC and have played a significant role in popularising the Asian game worldwide. This has been a very productive partnership for both sides."

Bin Hammam added that the revenues would be significant and help Asian football develop further, with bigger prizemoney for competitions such as the AFC Champions League.

"From 1992 until end 2008, our total revenue was 150 million dollars, now we are talking about one billion dollars, and we are sure that this figure will go up," he said.

"We are going to reinvest this money in the football itself. Basically we are going to increase the subsidy for the Champions League and the participating teams in the Asian Cup," he said.

Money will also be allocated to teams qualifying for the World Cup, and to aid Asian football at the Olympics.

The Singapore-based WSG has been the exclusive commercial partner of the AFC since 1993 and has helped popularise Asian football through its television distribution network and other media platforms.

Chairman and chief executive Seamus O'Brien said billions of fans were now following Asian football.

"In 1993, we made a commitment together with the AFC to take Asian football to the world," he said.

"Today, in just over a decade and a half, the value of Asian football has grown ten-fold and it has earned its rightful place on the international stage.

"Its events are being watched and followed throughout the world -- not just in Asia -- by billions of passionate fans and viewers."

He added that both sides would be looking to cooperate beyond 2020, depending on what could be worked out.

WSG, partly-owned by Dentsu Inc, Japan's largest advertising agency, has become a major player in the Asian sports field.

It is also the exclusive media rights partner of the Indian Premier League, ploughing one billion dollars into that venture, and was last week appointed global media and marketing partner of golf's expanding OneAsia Tour.

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