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Since Friday, November 26, the African Football Confederation (CAF) has been the first continental body to officially approve the controversial idea of a World Cup every two years, at the same pace as its African Cup of Nations (CAN) .
Unanimously, the bosses of the fifty-four African national football federations voted ” Yes “ to the “Decision of the FIFA Congress to conduct a feasibility study” for a biennial World Cup, instead of the usual quadrennial rhythm.
All raised their green cards in the presence of the highest executives of FIFA, the governing body of world football, who had pleaded at length beforehand for this change of schedule during the 13e CAF extraordinary general assembly at its headquarters in Cairo.
CAF also voted in favor of an African Super League of clubs for “Improve the quality of African football and generate income for all clubs, whether they participate or not”, assured Patrice Motsepe. But the boss of the CAF, questioned on this subject, refused to give a composition, a timetable or any other detail.
Europe and South America against
Continental football will already be in the spotlight in January with the CAN in January for which the host, Cameroon, “Is 95% ready”, assured Mr. Motsepe, inviting all the heads of African federations even if the CAF has recently remonstrated with Yaoundé.
These votes come less than a month before a virtual summit convened by FIFA, to discuss on December 20 (without a vote) its proposal for a biennial World Cup, which is met with great reluctance, mainly in Europe.
Between billions of euros in lost earnings – according to a report commissioned by UEFA – and threats « d’actions » From Nordic federations, oppositions have multiplied since FIFA made public its ambition.
UEFA, the South American Football Confederation, the World Leagues Forum and the powerful European Club Association have launched their battle to avoid overloading an already extremely dense schedule.
More income for federations
But the head of the body, Gianni Infantino, who dreams of launching his biennial World Cup from the 2028 edition, can count on the support of less dominant confederations in global football.
On paper, the project promises to distribute more income to federations, a particularly attractive argument for African or Asian authorities, more dependent on this windfall than prosperous European football. The African Cup of Nations has already been held every two years, in odd years since 2013, precisely to avoid coinciding with the years of the World Cup.
For its part, South America quickly protested against an idea that it said “Turns its back on nearly 100 years of world football tradition”, despite the seduction campaign led by FIFA on the continent. The format of the World Cup has already been changed recently, since forty-eight teams including nine from the African zone will participate in the men’s tournament in 2026, against thirty-two currently.
The African Super League project has existed for several years, led in particular by Mr. Infantino. The president of the Senegalese Federation, Augustin Senghor, first vice-president of CAF, is one of its most fervent supporters.
Commercial and media spinoffs
“I think that the African Champions League should be reserved for an elite which emerges on the field, with clubs which have the means of their policy, able to develop their own marketing image and which have behind enough popular base to be able to be commercially attractive ”, he explained to AFP in January, when he was still campaigning for the presidency of CAF.
He imagined “A competition across the continent, followed, organized and conceived as a product. We could sell it to companies around the world and also sign agreements with major television channels around the world to increase its value ”.
In his mind, this Super League was to be transitory. However, it would have attractive clubs, such as Al-Ahly, heavyweight in Egyptian football, who has already won ten C1, especially in 2020 and 2021. Before him, clubs in North Africa have also lifted the trophy, the Wydad of Casablanca in 2017 and Esperance de Tunis in 2018 and 2019.
Sub-Saharan Africa has not won it since the Tout Puissant Mazembe in 2015, and South Africa in 2016, with the Mamelodi Sundowns, the club of the new president of CAF, Patrice Motsepe.