Established in 2014, Hong Kong’s football league system presents itself in a new light. The Hong Kong Premier League is now the highest tier and the first fully professional football league. Currently, 11 teams are competing in Hong Kong’s top tier, with two (HKFC, R&F) given exemptions from general eligibility rules. Below the Premier League is the 1st Division, a semi-professional league with 14 teams, followed by amateur 2nd Division and 3rd Division. Usually, the last team of the Premier League will be relegated to the 1st Division, and the 1st Division champion will be promoted. However, in recent years the HKFA has made several exceptions, often allowing the lowest ranked team to stay in the Premier League or offering promotion to the runners-up or third of the 1st Division in order to have enough teams in the highest tier. Nine of the 11 reserve teams of Premier League clubs compete against each other in a separate league, the Reserve Division.
Currently the Hong Kong representative team competes in the 3rd round of the 2019 Asian Cup qualifiers. The official draw will be held on January 23rd, 2017. Hong Kong did not qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
In 2017 Hong Kong participates the very first time in Asia’s top-tier club tournament: the Asian Champions League. Due to the latest AFC ranking, Eastern qualified directly for the group stage of the ACL, where they face Guangzhou Evergrande (CHN), Kawasaki Frontale (JAP) and Bluewings Suwon (KOR). Kitchee enter the competition in the second round of the qualifiers. No Hong Kong team participates in the 2017 AFC Cup.