South Africa’s CAPE TOWN — Following the decision to push back the next African Cup of Nations until January 2024, there will likely be more club vs. country tension and discontent over the release of players as the tournament will once again conflict with the European season.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) made the announcement on Sunday, citing the host country Ivory Coast’s weather as the reason for the choice.
The tournament was scheduled to take place in June and July 2023, a time period chosen to coincide with the summer break of the European leagues. However, heavy rain that falls in the Ivory Coast during that time of year threatened to seriously interfere with Africa’s premier competition.
A technical group had informed CAF that holding the African Cup in Ivory Coast in the middle of the year would have “adverse” consequences.
For CAF, which had committed over a long period of time to moving the African Cup from its customary January-February time slot to the middle of the year, it has been a well-known issue.
However, a decision to hold three consecutive African Cups in Central and West Africa in 2014 undercut that because of the region’s unfavorable mid-year weather. Due to Cameroon’s monsoon season, the tournament this year that was originally scheduled to take place in June and July had to be moved back to January and February. Guinea, a West African nation, will host the next African Cup after Ivory Coast, which could result in the same issue.
When faced with the crucial stretch run of their league seasons, European clubs have consistently griped about having to release some of their biggest stars for the African Cup for at least a month. In addition, unlike other significant international soccer tournaments, the African Cup only occurs every two years.
Some clubs threatened to prevent their players from traveling to Cameroon for the African Cup, but the continent’s top athletes, including Sadio Mané of Senegal, Mohamed Salah of Egypt, and Riyad Mahrez of Algeria, did participate. FIFA, the international governing body, eventually reached a compromise by allowing clubs to postpone the release of their players to the African Cup. However, this compromise also creates issues for African teams, who now have less time, sometimes just days, to prepare their players for their continent’s premier competition.
Additionally, CAF revealed on Sunday that its executive committee had approved the creation of a new African club Super League to begin in 2023, crucially with FIFA’s support.
The new Super League will have a $100 million prize pool overall, according to CAF President Patrice Motsepe.
Motsepe continued, “We have received a flood of investors and sponsors who are eager to work with us on the CAF Super League.
Despite FIFA’s adamant opposition to the ultimately unsuccessful European Super League, FIFA President Gianni Infantino has publicly endorsed the concept of an African Super League.
The 2019-discussed African Super League, according to Infantino, will be “a completely different proposition,” he said earlier this year.
It’s definitely not a breakaway league. According to Infantino, it is an African Super League that is integrated into the institutional structures of both African and international football. The fact that this is an open competition with four teams that can be promoted and demoted if they don’t perform is the second significant difference.
Regarding the Super League’s final organization and how it would interact with the continent’s current Champions League club competition, CAF withheld any information. According to CAF, the specifics, including the tournament’s official name, will be revealed the following month.
The only truly lucrative soccer event on the continent is the African Cup of Nations, which urgently needs to be improved.