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Ranking the top 10 best football leagues in Asia 2024

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FC Goa at the AFC Champions League

Asia is one of the most attractive destinations for club football after Europe, South America and North America.

 

Leagues like the Saudi Arabia Pro League, South Korea K-League and Japanese J-League have had outstanding teams in domestic and continental engagements over the years.

 

Interestingly, the influx of some of the biggest names in European football lately to the Saudi Pro League has also made the region a hub for the sport.

 

Here are the top 10 best football leagues in Asia ranked statically for the 2023/2024 season:

 

1. Saudi Arabia (Pro League)

 

There is a reason the Pro League makes the top list. It is not only for the abundance of top-class players recently joining from Europe but also for the organisation and competition.

 

The recent declaration of the Saudi government regarding the transformation of its economy through other sectors, including sports, has helped in the elevation of the league even though it had always been a top destination on the continent.

 

Since 2022, the Pro League has witnessed the influx of some of the biggest players in Europe, thus significantly boosting its coverage globally.

 

Some top Saudi Pro League teams include Al Hilal, Al Nassr, Al Ittihad FC, etc. Internationally, Saudi Pro League team Al-Hilal is the most successful team in the AFC Champions League.

 

2. South Korea (K-League)

 

Football in South Korea has been a serious business from the old days. The K-League has produced some of the most iconic teams in Asian football that have been outstanding.

 

Some of the biggest K-League teams include Pohang Steelers, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, Suwon Samsung Bluewings, Ulsan HD FC, etc. K-League has also been one of the most competitive football leagues in Asia.

 

3. Japan (J1 League)

 

Japan has also preserved a long history of competitive football domestically. This is evident in the performance of the national team in international competitions.

 

Even though it’s national has a pool of foreign-based players, a significant portion comes from players in the J- J-League.

Over six Japanese teams have won the AFC Champions League throughout history.

 

Some of the top teams in Japan include Kashima Antlers, Yokohama F. Marinos, Kawasaki Frontale, Júbilo Iwata, Sanfrecce Hiroshima, etc.

 

4. Iran (Gulf Pro League)

 

Iran is one of the football powerhouses in Asian football. This is especially due to the national team’s performance in international competitions, which has a large pool of home-based players.

 

That said, Iranian teams are also some of the most competitive on the continent. Teams like Esteghlal have won the AFC Champions League.

 

Domestically, the league is also competitive. Persepolis, Sepahan, and Esteghlal are the three biggest and most successful teams.

 

5. Qatar (Stars League)

 

Qatar has always prided itself as one of the emerging football powerhouses in Asian football.

 

From having a national team with some of the best legs in the region to hosting the FIFA World Cup, Qatar has proven its ability to rank amongst the biggest.

 

On the Asian continent, Al-Sadd is the most suitable team, having won two AFC Champions League titles.

In the domestic scene, Al-Sadd, Al-Duhail, Qatar SC, and Al-Rayyan are the most successful and competitive teams.

 

6. Australia (A-League Men)

 

Although Australia is one of the biggest sporting destinations globally, football teams are less dominant than one would have thought, especially in Asia.

 

A-League teams have a much better organisation, coverage, marketing, and competition.

 

Teams in the Australian top flight include Sydney FC, Melbourne Victory, Brisbane Roar, Central Coast Mariners, Melbourne City, etc. Western Sydney Wanderers have won the AFC Champions League.

 

The A-League could be called the sleeping giant whose improved infrastructure, coverage and revenue is one of the best. But competition isn’t as good as it looks in the region.

 

7. Uzbekistan (Super League)

 

The Uzbek Super League is one of the top competitions in the region. The league is more competitive domestically.

Top teams in the country include Pakhtakor Tashkent, Lokomotiv Tashkent, Bunyodkor Tashkent and Neftchi.

 

8. China (Super League)

 

The Chinese Super League has significantly declined, especially the money crunch. Chinese teams invested heavily in top players from Europe to be one of the most competitive globally.

 

Although there was a significant rise in performance, its dominance fell after different policies were introduced, from salary caps to eligibility. The league remains one of the most competitive in the region.

 

Guangzhou Football Club have won the AFC Champions League two twice.

 

9. United Arab Emirates (UAE Pro League)

 

The UAE Pro League is also one of the top destinations you can think of. It may not be a highly-ranked league on the continent, but it has some of the best organisations in the region.

Some of the top teams include Al Ain, Shabab Al Ahli, Al Wasl, etc.

UAE teams are also some of the wealthiest teams in the region.

 

10. Thailand (Thai League 1)

 

The Thai League 1 is one of the best leagues on the continent. The league has also shown to be one of the most competitive in the region, especially teams like Bangkok United.

 

Top teams include Buriram United and Muangthong United. BG Pathum United and Bangkok United are the two emerging teams in the country.

I'm a sports enthusiast, love writing about football. I have been writing about top teams in Europe, the Premier League and La Liga.

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