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FIFA President Confirms Kick-Off Date for New African Football League
FIFA President announces start date for new African football league, taking measures to revitalize the continent's football landscape.
The commencement date for the new eight-team African Football League has been officially announced by FIFA President Gianni Infantino. He made the announcement during the Confederation of African Football's (CAF) General Assembly held in Abidjan on Thursday.
The highly anticipated league, which has been scaled down from its original proposal of 24 teams, will begin on October 20. CAF reported a significant financial loss of $15.7 million for the 2022-23 fiscal year, leading to the revised format. Infantino expressed optimism for the future, stating, "It will have eight great teams, which will be followed in the future with a bigger version. We have to invest in African club football as well as national team football. It is our responsibility, duty, and task, and with the work and contribution of all of us as a team, we will succeed."
The details regarding broadcasters, sponsors, and logistics for the league are currently undisclosed. Initially, CAF had promised a prize money pool of $100 million (approximately R1.8 billion), with the winner receiving $11.5 million. Additionally, a proposed solidarity fund aimed at supporting football development had been discussed, with each of CAF's 54 member associations expected to receive $1 million annually.
However, it remains unclear if these provisions are still in effect. Patrice Motsepe, CAF president, has emphasized the need to enhance the "product" of African football to appeal to a global audience, with the new league serving as a crucial component.
Motsepe called on football association presidents and governments across the continent to increase their investment in the sport, stating, "We have a huge amount of confidence that the progress we are making and with the talent we have in Africa, it will result in an African nation winning the World Cup [one day]. But we have to spend money on coaching the coaches, opening academies, and ensuring professional clubs have sufficient resources." Motsepe echoed the sentiment of collective responsibility and teamwork for success.
With just over three months remaining until the league's start, CAF has yet to formally confirm the participating teams. However, according to Reuters, the anticipated eight teams are Mamelodi Sundowns, the South African champions owned by the family of CAF president Patrice Motsepe, Petro Atletico from Angola, TP Mazembe from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Al Ahly from Egypt, Horoya from Guinea, Wydad Casablanca from Morocco, Simba from Tanzania, and Esperance from Tunisia.
The new league will run parallel to CAF's Champions League, which features domestic league winners from across the continent and will not be replaced by the African Football League.
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