KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - AFC president Mohamed bin Hammam has implored teams in Asia to embrace a new era of professionalism and become commercially viable to ensure the future of football in the region.
The Asian Football Confederation chief made the remarks at the end of the first-ever Asian general managers seminar here designed to enlighten participants on the best practices of club management.
Topics covered included player development, generating revenue, attracting fans and sponsorship and media activities.
"After two days of intensive learning, I believe the participants now understand exactly what professionalism means and how, together, we need to take our continent to the future," Bin Hammam told 150 club managers.
"The challenges are great and next season we are going to start the long journey to glory. We all have real challenges awaiting us. You carry on your shoulders the future of professional football in Asia.
"The fans expect a lot and we have to meet those expectations. The way this seminar has been conducted and the way you have received it tells me a lot.
"It tells me that you are committed and want to see a big improvement in our continent."
The Qatari has long called for clubs and leagues in Asia to be managed more professionally, pointing to the success of England's Premier League as a shining example.
A key aspect of his vision for the future has been to make clubs and leagues more commercially viable through increased transparency in the way they do business, as well as more competitive to attract new fans.
Bin Hammam also singled out Japan's J-League -- Asia's most successful professional league set up more than a decade ago -- as a model to follow.
"Whatever you have heard, read or witnessed these past two days, if you don't believe in it, changes cannot happen," he said.
"Everybody must believe and must implement what they have learned. Don't say you can't do it. I believe everybody can do it. Japan did it. They did not say 'we can't do it'.
"Only if you defeat it inside yourself will you fail. There is a shared responsibility among all of us to work hard and make this a success."
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