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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Sports -> 
Asian Champions League for women to kick off in 2023
    2021-04-08  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

A WOMEN’S AFC Champions League will be launched in 2023, Asia’s football governing body has said, with the new international club tournament aiming to increase the strength of the female game across the continent.

Japan won the Women’s World Cup in 2011 and Asia has other strong teams such as Australia and China, but at club level the popularity of women’s soccer in Asia lags far behind Europe and the United States.

At the last Women’s World Cup in France in 2019, no Asian team reached the quarterfinals for the first time since the tournament began in 1991.

But the Asian Football Confederation is now preparing to launch a female version of the Champions League in two years’ time, said the governing body’s head of women’s soccer, Bai Lili.

“That is going to definitely boost women’s football,” Bai, who played for China at the 2004 Athens Olympics, said at the AFC’s headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

“If we are organizing a club competition, that means the participants need to meet the criteria for the club licensing, the leagues need to be well organized.”

“That is definitely going to help the domestic leagues. It will give exposure to the nonnational team players.”

The AFC has started laying the groundwork.

In 2019, they organized the first pilot Women’s Club Championship in South Korea, with four sides from China, Australia, Japan and South Korea competing.

The second edition will take place this year and there will be a third in 2022, before the launch of the Women’s ­Champions League proper in 2023.

Bai said it was not clear yet how many teams would participate in the debut edition of the Champions League.

The men’s Champions League, which will this year ­involve 40 clubs from the world’s most populous continent, sees group stages and knockout rounds split into east and west zones, before the winners of each zone meet in the final.

There is already a Women’s Asian Cup, in which national teams compete every four years, but Bai hopes a major club competition will strengthen the women’s game in Asia the way it has in Europe.

The 42-year-old believes the UEFA Women’s Champions League, which began life in 2001 in a cup format, has been key to the development of the game there.

(SD-Agencies)

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