How City can make history in first Women’s Champions League campaign: Key dates & prize money

A new era has dawned in Asian club football, with the very first edition of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Women’s Champions League set to take place in 2024-25.

The continental tournament is the first of its kind for women’s football in the AFC, established for the 2024-25 campaign in August, 2023 as part of a revamped approach to the confederation’s elite club competitions.

The first Women’s Champions League campaign comes after three editions of the Women’s Club Championship – the AFC’s “pilot” program.

Liberty A-League club Sydney FC took part in the 2023 tournament after finishing the 2022-23 domestic season as Premiers; now, for the inaugural Women’s Champions League campaign, reigning Liberty A-League Premiers Melbourne City will represent Australia alongside 21 rival clubs from 21 different Asian nations.

Here’s everything you need to know about the AFC Women’s Champions League ahead of the inaugural edition of the tournament.

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The format

The 2024-25 AFC Women’s Champions League campaign has three phases: a preliminary stage, a group stage, and the knockout stage.

The 22 clubs set to take part in the tournament are ranked from 1-22 in order of their Member Association’s standing on FIFA’s World Rankings. The eight highest-ranked nations get a direct pass to the group stage. The remaining 14 take place in the preliminary stage.

Australia is ranked 12th in the world and third in the AFC; as a result, Melbourne City have earned a direct slot in the group stage.

The 22 clubs (two to be confirmed) are listed below in order of their nation’s Member Association. Nations ranked 1-8 below have progressed to the group stage.

View FIFA’s Latest Women’s World Rankings here

RankMember AssociationClub
1JapanUrawa Red Diamonds Ladies
2DPR KoreaNaegohyang Women’s FC
3AustraliaMelbourne City FC
4China PRWuhan Jiangda Women’s FC
5Korea RepublicHyundai Steel Red Angels Women’s FC
6VietnamHo Chi Minh City Women’s FC
7PhilippinesKaya FC-Iloilo
8Chinese TaipeiTaichung Blue Whale Women’s Football Team
9ThailandTBC*
10UzbekistanPFC Nasaf
11MyanmarMyawady Women Football Club
12Islamic Republic of IranBam Khatoon FC
13IndiaOdisha Football Club
14JordanEtihad Club
15Hong Kong, ChinaTBC*
16LaosYoung Elephants FC
17MalaysiaSabah FA
18NepalAPF Football Club
19United Arab EmiratesAbu Dhabi Country Club
20SingaporeLion City Sailors FC
21BhutanRTC FC
22Saudi ArabiaAl Nassr Club

*clubs to be confirmed following completion of ongoing domestic competitions

The preliminary round will take place between August 25-31 in a centralised location. The 14 clubs involved will be split into four groups – two groups of four teams and two groups of three.

The four group winners will progress to the group stage to join the eight teams already qualified via Member Association rankings.

The group stage will feature 12 clubs and take place in a centralised location between October 6-12. The 12 clubs will be split into three groups of four. Each club will play their three group opponents once each across three matchdays.

The top two clubs in each group after the group stage will progress to the Quarter-Finals – as will the two best third-placed sides from the three groups.

The knockout stage will follow the Quarter-Finals, Semi-Finals and Final format.

The four Quarter-Final matchups will be confirmed via a draw, with the higher-ranked team of each tie to serve as the home side. The Quarter-Finals will be single-leg encounters and take place between March 22 and 23.

Then comes the Finals: between May 21 and 24, the four Semi-Finalists will assemble in a centralised location (TBC) for both of the single-leg Semis as well as the Final.

Image: AFC.

The prize money

There’s significant financial incentive for City as the Liberty A-League’s representative in the 2024-25 Women’s Champions League campaign, with the winner of the inaugural edition of the tournament set to take home at least USD 1.3 million (roughly AUD 1.95 million).

Image: AFC.

City have secured automatic qualification to the group stage, which is great news for the Liberty A-League side as each group stage participant is set to receive an automatic prize of USD 100,000 (roughly AUD 150,000).

Should City reach the Quarter-Finals, an additional USD 80,000 (AUD 120,000) would go the way of Dario Vidosic’s side.

City would receive a further USD 120,000 (AUD 180,000) for reaching the Semi-Finals – and should the Liberty A-League side make the final but fall short, the runners-up would receive an additional USD 500,000 (AUD 750,000). The winners would receive an additional USD 1 million (AUD 1.5 million), taking the winning club’s total winnings to USD 1.3 million (AUD 1.95 million).

Image: AFC.