The Asian Football Confederation has cut Jordan, Syria and Kuwait from its list of nations eligible to enter clubs in the remodeled Asian Champions League in 2009 because they did not submit full
documentation. Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates is bidding to have the AFC's headquarters, currently in Malaysia, moved to Abu Dhabi.
The AFC's Pro-League committee announced
Thursday that 14 nations had met the criteria for having clubs in the 2009 competition -- Japan, South Korea, China, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Iran, Australia, Indonesia, Singapore,
Uzbekistan, Qatar, Thailand, Vietnam and India. Teams from 11 of those countries will enter teams directly into a new 32-team group phase. In other changes, Japan will host a single-game final,
replacing the current home-and-away format, and the number of foreign players allowed per team has been expanded to four, provided at least one of those is from another AFC member nation.
The UAE bid to re-locate the AFC in Abu Dhabi comes against a background of disputes between the AFC and its current host Malaysia. Qatar, the native country of AFC President Mohamed Bin Hammam,
is also interested in luring the AFC, whose requirements include tax breaks, interest-free loans and free use of stadiums, according to Martin Petty of Reuters
. But many of the AFC's 46 member nations are vehemently opposed to moving to the Gulf, he reports. Malaysia
itself is opposed to all the AFC's demands, and points out that moving the body's HQ requires the support of 70 percent of AFC member countries.
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