African footballers have over the years brought a vibrant and dynamic energy to the beautiful game at clubs around the world. From Mohamed Salah’s lightning-fast runs down the wing to Sadio Mane’s graceful movements on the pitch, international football has increasingly become African-dominated.
Now, with new developments, football in Africa is due for a major boost after African teams led by Morocco pulled off a stunning performance in the 2022 Qatar World Cup and FIFA is getting behind those efforts, most obviously by endorsing the Confederation of African Football's (CAF's) new Super League.
Slated for August 2023, the new league could be a game-changer for African football.
“Besides providing a competitive platform for local and international football players, the competition will move Africa closer to actualising its football potential,” said Patrick Korir, CEO of Nairobi City Stars. “Clubs will be challenged to stretch more, from pursuing quality talent to the technical levels. Overall the quality of the sport will improve.”
An African Super League could see that kind of energy brought to club-level football on the continent.
CAF president, Patrice Motsepe, said the Africa Super League “is one of the most exciting projects in the history of African football and will significantly contribute to the development and growth of the quality and competitiveness of football in Africa.”
Beyond the technical benefits, winners seasonal awards will be worth US$100 million, with the winner receiving US$11.5 million.
Korir points out that despite some doubts regarding FIFA and CAF’s sources of funding, the prize values are transformational.
“In Kenya for instance, the premiere league winner fights for 4 million (Kenya shillings) but with such a competition, a club will walk away with millions of dollars and that, in my view, is more important,” he notes.
CAF said 24 clubs will be drawn from three regions in Africa -- North, Central/West, Southern/East -- with each region forwarding eight clubs to the competition and an individual country limited to at most three clubs.
Korir explains that this approach “ensures there is continent-wide representation and balance in the number of teams featured, thus - continental growth”.
Motsepe estimates 16 associations will be featured and they will represent about 1 billion people in Africa. The tournament is scheduled to run for 10 months with a total of 197 matches set to be played, including relegation and promotion playoffs.
An Africa Super League “would contribute to ensuring that football on the African Continent is managed and operated at the same professional, ethical and governance level as UEFA, CONMEBOL, CONCACAF and other Confederations,” Motsepe said.
FIFA to release more funding
Besides the super league, more funding is coming to African football as FIFA associations look forward to additional funding under the FIFA Forward 3.0 programme, 2022-2026.
In the new round of funding, individual associations could get up to US$5 million to supplement operational costs and an additional US$ 3 million to execute specific football projects.
Associations that are the most in need will also take home US$1.2 million to cover the costs of travel and accommodation for their national teams, as well as the purchase of football equipment.
Confederations and regional/zonal associations will receive US$60 million and US$5 million respectively, to advance football-related activities.
FIFA's president, Gianno Infantino, said the funding will strengthen FIFA’s commitment to building a robust foundation for football to thrive.
“The new cycle will provide increased investment, greater impact through the achievement of football development objectives and continued oversight to ensure that all funds are used responsibly”, he explained in a press statement.
According to the Namibian, a Namibia-based news outlet, Namibia could benefit to the tune of US$9.2 million by 2026, courtesy of the programme.
bird story agency