May 28 – In a major boost to club football in India, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has chosen India as one of the 11 participants in the revamped 2009 Champions League. The champions of I-League, the professional league in the country, will take part in the Champions League, Indiatimes reported.
Japan, South Korea, Australia, China, Indonesia, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and Iran were the other countries which were recommended by the committee for the 2009 AFC Champions League to be re-launched on completely professional lines.
India was ranked only 17th of 21 nations considered for entry by the AFC Committee, but the introduction of the I League – which had its first season in 2007-08 – and the expectation of rapid improvement in organization and commercialism saw it promoted to the ACL, the International Herald Tribune reported.
Asian football needs a big reformation process to make it professional and successful, and I know radical changes might not please everybody, but we must have the courage of our conviction," AFC president Mohamed Bin Hammam told IHT.