RIYADH: Women’s football in Kingdom took another major step forward when the licensing committee of the Saudi Professional League clarified the requirements that clubs need to meet in order to participate in the Women’s Football League, according to a report in Arabic sports daily Arriyadiyah.
In line with Asian Football Federation (AFC) standards, the committee announced that entry into women’s competition must satisfy Grade C, which is a best practice recommendation level that can be upgraded at a later date to a higher, mandatory standard that involves certification.
The committee, however, stipulated that increasing the age groups from three to four teams, as well as protecting and caring for youth members, required a mandatory standard Grade B.
The latest AFC Women’s Club Licensing criteria are part of the AFC Club Licensing Regulations (Edition 2021), which were ratified by the confederation’s executive committee in January and are expected to create a similar game-changing impact as witnessed in the men’s game, with focus on sporting, infrastructure, personnel, administrative, legal and financial requirements.
With the impending launch of the AFC Women’s Champions League in 2023, meeting the new standards will be crucial for clubs with the ambition of qualifying to what will become Asia’s premier women’s club tournament.
In a statement issued on April 15, the AFC had reinforced its commitment to strengthen and accelerate the development of the professional landscape in women’s club football with the implementation of the new AFC Women’s Club Licensing.
“The AFC is focused on its commitment to develop women’s football at the national and club level,” AFC General Secretary Dato’ Windsor John said. “The AFC Women’s Club Licensing will instill professionalism, similar to men’s club football, which is essential for clubs who want to compete in the AFC Women’s Champions League.
“Women’s football in Asia has enjoyed rapid growth in recent years, and our national teams are among the best in the world,” he added. “The AFC, as part of our vision and mission, aspires to raise the standards of women’s football by creating world-class club competitions, which in turn will inspire more member associations to professionalize their domestic leagues.”
The new amendments announced by the Saudi Professional League also included raising the rank of positions such as legal officer, technical adviser, goalkeeping coach, and first-team fitness coach from a Grade C criteria to a mandatory Grade B, starting from next season.