TikTok cements its position as the leading hub for African football fandom

As far as followership goes, there is no doubt that football occupies an exalted position on the African continent.

TikTok is an entertainment platform of choice for Gen Zs.

The sport, popular around the world for inclusivity, captures the attention and imagination of the African youth most keenly and is an unmistakable outlet for passion and emotion.

This clearly informed TikTok’s partnership with the Confederation of African Football (CAF), a move that, according to the video hosting app, is geared toward “bringing unmissable football content to fans, both on the continent and across the globe.” It is not only the first of its kind within the context of the sport in Africa, but it is also TikTok’s first major brand partnership on the continent – a clear statement of intent.

The agreement between CAF and TikTok was announced in early 2022, in time for the kick-off of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon. While the timing was opportune, it was by no means a one-off; fans all over the continent were able to engage and create content around the 2022 CAF Champions League.

TikTok is also poised to be a key player during the 2022 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations in Morocco, which kicks off on July 2, 2022. In partnering with CAF, TikTok has made it possible for fans to communally share moments of triumph and history through highlights and matchday content right on the app. This not only makes the platform a destination in itself but also captures the excitement and passion of these major sporting events.

Unsurprisingly, football content on the platform is hugely popular and well-received, with a number of creators taking advantage of the cool filters, in-app effects and trendy challenges to reach out to wide audiences in the tens of thousands.

Sports radio presenter Aderonke Adesola (olorisports1) has accrued a significant following through the unique use of subtle wordplay in the Yoruba language. For Ekpolo Simon Ogheneruona (youngnoblecommentary), it is his uncanny mimicry of popular football commentary that has endeared him to an audience of over 250,000 followers.

Adika (adika.s.takes) gives his takes on trending sporting news and occasionally weighs in on controversial talking points, while Binutu Timilehin Moses (been_timz) presents interesting stats and facts over catchy music while staring into the distance and striking a pose.

These creators have all found fertile ground for their varying content on TikTok, fulfilling the platform’s desire to become “a home for the spirit and passion of iconic sporting events”, while at the same time driving conversation and demonstrating their passion in a manner that is authentically African. It is precisely this diversity of expression that informed TikTok’s desire to partner with CAF.

As Content Operations Manager for Africa, Boniswa Sidwaba put it, there is a “lot of potential to harness and cultivate creative football expression on our platform.” The sense, then, is that this is only just scratching the surface of what creators can accomplish using the app.

While this push aims to cement and grow the TikTok brand within Africa’s sporting context, the platform is also mindful of the potentially harmful effects of toxic fandom. The use of social media to spread hate and discrimination against certain demographics is not uncommon, and it has never been more important for platforms to intervene in order to protect the rights and mental health of frequently targeted minorities.

In line with this, TikTok has put safety protocols in place, with its #SwipeOutHate campaign aiming to forestall the proliferation of harmful content on its platform. Its stance against hate is unequivocal, as is the desire to evolve its security measures and guidelines to meet increasingly complex challenges. This manifests itself in the pursuit of continuous education, academic consultation and the deployment of technology to identify and weed out unwholesome content.

TikTok’s inbuilt safety tools – the restriction of direct messages, moderation of comments, and confidential reporting, to name a few – are not only means by which hate can be combatted but also ensure that creators remain in control of their own spaces.

With safety as a top priority, TikTok is leaving no stone unturned in creating a veritable hub for African football and is opening up new digital frontiers for the growth and development of the sport on the continent.

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About TikTok

TikTok is the leading destination for short-form mobile video. Our mission is to inspire creativity and bring joy. TikTok has global offices including Los Angeles, New York, Johannesburg, London, Paris, Berlin, Dubai, Mumbai, Singapore, Jakarta, Seoul, and Tokyo. www.tiktok.com.

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