Clubs from India and Pakistan are preparing to compete in the inaugural session of the SAFF Club Championship in 2024-25.
The South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) plans to hold the inaugural SAFF Club Championship 2024-25. The competition was conceived a few years ago, but it gained shape earlier this year at the SAFF Congress. All of its member organisations have decided to take part in the first event.
The competition would feature top clubs from each of the seven SAFF countries. The first edition will include 16 clubs in total. India is set to receive four places in the inaugural edition, which will take place in 2024-25. The competition will also include four teams from Bangladesh, three clubs from the Maldives, two clubs from Nepal, and one club each from Bhutan, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
The event was originally scheduled to take place in a centralized venue. Eventually, a home-and-away format spanning a six- to seven-month timeframe was decided. It came after the AIFF voiced concerns over allotting two weeks during the regular Indian football season. The inaugural club championship might take place in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where the regional governing organisation is based.
SAFF president Kazi Salahuddin, who is also the head of the Bangladesh Football Federation, took over the South Asian football regulatory body in 2009 and has long advocated for a UEFA Champions League-style competition in the region.
The project has not yet materialised due to a lack of support from sponsors. However, the SAFF executive committee decided in principle to host the tournament during the 2024-25 season.
According to GeoSuper News, the Pakistan Football Federation is all set to participate in the tournament. Afghan Club Chaman, Muslim FC and Baloch FC Nushki are shortlisted. The three clubs will go head to head in December to book their place for the Asian event. However, the other member associations including India, are yet to decide their teams for the continental piece.