MANILA, PHILIPPINES — Suzuki Motor Corporation will be the title sponsor of the Asean Football Federation Championship once again, paving the way for another exciting edition of the region’s biggest and most-passionately supported football tournament in 2018.
This will mark the sixth successive occasion Suzuki Motor Corporation has backed the AFF’s flagship competition – the AFF Suzuki Cup – since 2008. First played in 1996, the biennial tournament is contested by the national teams of Southeast Asia and boasts record TV ratings and sold-out stadia.
“We began our sponsorship as the title sponsor in 2008 with the passion to bring thrill and excitement to the ASEAN region,” said Kinji Saito, Managing Officer from Suzuki Motor Corporation.
“Since then, together with fans and championship staff, the AFF SUZUKI CUP has created sensational moments and unforgettable memories, which embody Suzuki’s corporate slogan “Way of Life!” The 2018 championship will mark the 10th year anniversary of our sponsorship, and with new changes to the tournament format, it will surely be as remarkable and exciting as ever, and will mark a new chapter in the history of the AFF SUZUKI CUP.”
During the 2016 games, when Myanmar and the Philippines hosted the Group Stages for the first time, Thailand triumphed for a record fifth.
“This year will be the 12th time we have staged the AFF Football Championship and we are truly grateful to Suzuki Motor Corporation for embracing the region’s top footballing tournament as the title sponsor once again,” said Lt Gen Dato’ Sri Azzuddin Ahmad (Retired), General Secretary of AFF.
“It is incredible how quickly time has flown since the inaugural tournament was staged in Singapore in 1996. Not only has the tournament grown from strength to strength, it has created opportunities to groom football talent in the region and is today the most important regional stage for local teams to take the next step up.”
Importantly, Suzuki’s renewal comes at a time when the tournament will see some exciting new changes to its format, aimed at providing more exposure to the players in their home country and driving greater fan engagement.
Starting this year, the Qualification Round will see the two lowest-ranked ASEAN teams playing off against each other, with the winner joining the top nine ranked countries in the Group Stage.
Each Group will comprise five teams, with each team playing two matches at home and two matches outside. The Semi-Finals and Finals format will remain home-and-away matches played over two-legs. This means throughout the course of the tournament, there will be more home matches held in every participating country, which will further enhance established rivalries.
“These are exciting times for the AFF Football Championship with Suzuki Motor Corporation extending its legacy as title sponsor and putting its weight behind an invigorated tournament,” said Tom Smith, President, Football – Asia at Lagardère Sports. “We deeply appreciate Suzuki’s unwavering support, and our team looks forward to delivering the most impactful event in the history of the competition.”
Suzuki Philippines recalls the honor of hosting the Group Stages in 2016; “It was a great privilege and a humbling experience to be one of the hosts in the 2016 Suzuki Cup and witness first-hand how the region’s biggest tournament brings different people together and share a common experience. Indeed, it was a way of sharing to people what the Suzuki Way of Life is all about. We have only excitement for the 2018 Suzuki Cup.”