The most famous competition organised by the AFC is, without doubt, the Asian Cup, the Asian equivalent to UEFA’s European Championships for national teams. The Asian Cup was first played in 1956 in Hong Kong and since then has been held every four years, until the competition was organised in China in 2004. After that, the tournament was reorganised for 2007 and has been played every four years again.
There are four countries which, over the course of the Asian Cup’s history, have recorded the most wins in this competition: Japan with four victories, Saudi Arabia with three, Iran with three and South Korea with two. The reigning champions are Australia, which won the last edition – in 2015 – its first Asian title since joining the AFC in 2006.
As from 1986, the AFC also oversees the Women’s Asian Cup, up until then organised by the Football Federation of Asian Women. Until 2014, when it moved to a four year cycle, this competition took place every two years. It is curious that in the women’s version of the tournament China is the country which has won most often, with 8 victories – despite the fact that the men’s team has had no success in its own competition. Nonetheless, the reigning champions are Japan, whose women’s team won the tournament for the first time.
Another important competition organised by the Asian Confederation is the AFC Champions League, which was played for the first time in 1967 under the name of the Asian Champion Club Tournament and was relaunched in 2002/2003 along the lines of our UEFA Champions League. Starting from 2004 the AFC decided to admit only the highest placed teams in the championships of the fourteen best Asian federations. For this reason, that same year a new competition was introduced, the AFC Cup, reserved for the clubs from countries which do not participate in the Champions League.
The club winning the Champions of Asia title most often is Pohang Steelers – the South Korean club taking part in the K League Classic – and it has won the tournament three times. The reigning champions are the South Korean team Jeonbuk Motors, with a 2-1 win over Al Ain and a 1-1 draw during the two-leg final played in November 2016, earning its second victory in the Champions League ten years after the first.