The kick-off of the new eight-club African Football League has been confirmed for Oct. 20 by FIFA president Gianni Infantino.
He made the announcement at the General Assembly of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) in Abidjan on Thursday.
The competition has been drastically scaled down from the original proposal of 24 clubs as CAF announced a 15.7 million dollars loss for the 2022/2023 financial year.
“It will have eight great teams, which will be followed in the future with a bigger version,” Infantino told delegates.
“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.”
Not much more is known of the competition a little over three months before it is set to kick off, with CAF yet to formally confirm the participating clubs.
But it is understood that the eight clubs may include South African champions Mamelodi Sundowns, who are owned by the family of CAF president Patrice Motsepe, and Petro Atletico from Angola.
The rest are the Democratic Republic of Congo’s TP Mazembe, Al Ahly from Egypt, Horoya from Guinea, Wydad Casablanca from Morocco, Tanzania’s Simba, and Esperance of Tunisia.
The competition will run concurrently with CAF’s Champions League for domestic league winners across the continent and is not a replacement.
Details around broadcasters, sponsors, and logistics also remain under wraps for now.
Motsepe has spoken at length in recent years of needing to improve the African football “product” to make it more appealing to a global audience.
The new league is said to be key to that.
“We have recognised for many years that African football players have been among the best in the world, but we have to improve the appeal of African football, its commercial viability and its capacity to sustain itself,” Motsepe told delegates.
Meanwhile, CAF also confirmed a loss for the previous financial year.
But that is off the back of a 17 percent improvement in revenues to 125.2 million dollars, which they anticipate will grow further in 2023/2024.
The deficit was not unexpected after CAF settled out of court for an undisclosed figure with commercial agency Lagardere last November.
This was after it cancelled a 10-year one-billion-dollar television and marketing rights deal in 2019.
“CAF had to take some difficult decisions on the long-standing dispute with some of our partners by settling matters out of court,” CAF said in a statement on Thursday.
“This, plus other accounting standards provisions recommended by CAF auditors, were fully provided for in the financials.” (Reuters/NAN)