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CAF's Africa Super League has its positives, but can it succeed?

August 13th 2022, 12:17:50 pm

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) recently announced the launch of a new competition- Africa Super League.

CAF has formally announced the Africa Super League

The competition, which borrowed its name from the ill-fated European Super League, has generated a lot of controversies.

However, this could be a good thing for African football development. According to CAF's President Patrice Motsepe, the competition will improve the quality of football on the continent, with prize money of $100m, including $12.5m for the winner alone.

While it is normal for African football lovers to be sceptical, the African Super League could be a blessing if CAF executes it properly.

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The prize money involved will go a long way in helping many African clubs. It is no longer news that African football struggles financially, especially the clubs.

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Aside from a few clubs in North Africa, Tanzania and South Africa, most African clubs rely on Government money to run, which is not sustainable. The cost of a charter flight to prosecute games is a burden on its own for most of these clubs.

While The African Super League may not necessarily solve all the financial problems of these clubs, it will go a long way in helping them.

For example, each of the 24 clubs participating in the competition will get $2.5m, which is more than the total prize money the winner of the CAF Champions League gets. Not only that, but each member of the CAF association also gets $1m from the $100m largesse for the development of football in their country.

The financial windfall African countries and clubs are expected to get from the African Super League will definitely go a long way in developing African football. And not only that, but fans get to see the best of the best competing.

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CAF has been struggling financially since the French media group Lagardere terminated the billion-dollar TV deal they signed with the association in 2019. But while the idea behind the Super League is great, the question is, how does CAF plan to raise the money? As of now, there are still no sponsors or investors, although Motsepe is optimistic.

However, considering CAF lost $40m in the 2020/2021 financial year, they will need sponsors and investors for the Super League to succeed. And right now, no sponsors or investors have come out to express their interest.

CAF has struggled so far to find another option to the Lagardere deal, which would have sustained the body until 2028. And it is really hard to blame investors because African football is not marketable right now.

Aside from the questions on how CAF intends to raise money, the idea of the Super League is likely to kill CAF's two club competitions, the CAF Champions League and the Confederations Cup.

Although Motsepe says the three competitions can co-exist, clubs are less likely to take CAF Champions League and Confederations Cup seriously, considering the money in the Super League.

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Also, even if the Super League is successfully launched, will it be appealing to African fans, who will be the main consumers? A Shooting Stars football club fan is likely not interested in a match between AS Vita and Kaizer Chiefs. Low fan turnout has always been an issue at CAF competitions, and African Super League will not change that.

The Africa Cup of Nations, CAF's biggest competition, has failed in that regard as only when the host country plays is when fans turn out. So it is unlikely it changes with the African Super League.

Another point to note is that the Super League will not bridge the gap in quality between clubs. The rich will keep getting richer while clubs that are not well-funded will continue to struggle to catch up. North African Clubs have won the CAF champions league titles since 2005, with the exception of Mamelodi Sundowns and TP Mazembe.

The Super League, irrespective of the largesse it brings, is unlikely to end the North African club's dominance as these clubs will even earn more with the financial windfall from the competition. It is also unlikely to see how it will benefit the domestic leagues across Africa, although CAF intends to shed more light on that in the coming weeks.

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And that is not to mention the chaos it will bring to the football calendar, given there are already a lot of matches right now.

Overall, while the Super League looks like a good idea, there are still a lot of things CAF needs to put in place or else the project will fail even before it starts.

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