THE Confederation of African Football president Patrice Motsepe has launched an African Super League, with the promise of $ 100 million in prize money for clubs across the continent.
At the launch of the historic tournament, a world first, Motsepe said:
“The Africa Super League is one of the most exciting developments in the history of African football and the objective in terms of what we are trying to achieve is very clear, number one is to make sure African club football is world-class and competes with the best in the world. This is about the future of African football, this is about Africans taking charge of its future. To do this, we need money”
“Football is about finance. It is about having a product and the commercial backing for it.”
“The success of club football is based on commercial viability. The Africa Super League for us is the most important intervention in the development and advancement of football in Africa.
“Football is a short career and football players have to maximize their earnings while they are playing. I have been involved with clubs for many years in African football, I understand the challenges.
“African clubs have never had a good foundation, financially to keep some of the best players in Africa, to stay in Africa, from an income perspective, they love the continent, they want to be in Africa, so the financial part of club football is a critical issue and what we’re hoping to do is improve the quality of football. We need to get the spectators excited to watch local football so it’s as good as watching football anywhere in the world.
“The next press conference that we will have is where we will be announcing the formal launch, giving you the final feedback in relation to commencement and the implementation of the Africa Super League.”
The project has been in the pipeline since it was first suggested by FIFA president Gianni Infantino in early 2020 and met with almost none of the derision and outrage that followed a similar attempt in Europe last year.
Only the players’ union in South Africa, in a statement this week, has criticised the plan, saying: “Professional football in South Africa and Africa could be at risk if the resolution to commence with the Super League is implemented and there may be no return from the wreckage that a Super League can become.”
Motsepe has promised sponsorship and revenue returns previously unheard of for African football, where the annual Champions League winner earns $2.5-million in prize money.
He has claimed, at several previous news conferences, that the Super League will allow clubs to pay top talent wages to match those in Europe and therefore allow African teams to keep their best players.
The Super League named the African Football League to disassociate it with the negative connotations of last year’s flopped European Super League plans, will have 24 teams and start in August next year.
It will have $ 100 million in prize money with $11.6-million for the winner. CAF also intends paying each African football association $ 1 million annually from the league’s earnings. There are 54 member associations of CAF.
It is not clear whether CAF has finalised the list of clubs, but they will come from 16 different nations with a maximum of three per country.
They will play a group competition first, divided into three groups of eight clubs, before the majority of clubs move onto an American-style playoff system, including wild card berths.
CAF plan to continue with their club showpiece Champions League but officials said there were plans to revert back to a two-legged knockout competition, dispensing with the group phase.
Infantino, when he raised the concept at a CAF seminar in Morocco in February 2020, said: “We have to take the 20 best African clubs and put them in an Africa league. Such a league could make at least US$200 million in revenue, which would put it among the top ten in the world.”