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Gianni Infantino backs newly launched African Super League

August 10, 2022

The Confederation of African Football has launched a new $100 million Super League aimed at boosting the game on the continent. FIFA President Gianni Infantino has backed the project, despite criticism from South Africa.

CAF Champions League - Finale | Sieger Wydad Casablanca
CAF Champions League winners Wydad Casablanca only received $2m this yearImage: Juan Medina/REUTERS

Two years after first mooting the idea, FIFA president Gianni Infantino has welcomed the launch of a pan-continental Africa Super League, which was announced by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) on Wednesday.

The plan, laid out by CAF president Patrice Motsepe at the organization's general assembly in Arusha, Tanzania, will see 24 as yet unnamed clubs from 16 countries competing in the pan-African competition which is targeted to start in August 2023.

The competition will offer $100 million in prize money with $11.6m for the winner, plus a a solidarity fund that will see each of the 54 member associations of CAF receive $1-million per year towards football development. Currently, African Champions League winners only receive $2m in prize money.

Motsepe described the launch as "the most fundamental intervention to the significant improvement of the quality of football in Africa," claiming the competition "represents the very best on the continent and we have seen a big appetite from investors to be involved in this project."

Support from Infantino

And Infantino has lent his support, saying: "There is a huge will to invest in a project like this, which will give a new visibility to African football. The growth of African club and national team football contributes to the growth of world football. The competition will benefit each and every country, not just with the solidarity payment, but the exposure for African football."

When he first raised the concept at a CAF seminar in Morocco in February 2020, Infantino had said: "We have to take the 20 best African clubs and put them in an Africa league. Such a league could make at least $200m in revenue, which would put it among the top 10 in the world."

The promise of such figures are attractive to CAF, which made losses of $44.6m in 2020/21 as the COVID-19 pandemic led to the postponement and cancellation of several of its flagship events. Now Motsepe is hoping that the new African Super league will help generate new revenue streams for cash-strapped federations.

CAF plans to continue with its club showpiece Champions League but officials said there were plans to revert back to a two-legged knockout competition, dispensing with the group phase.

The Super League will play a pool competition first, divided into three groups of eight clubs, before the majority of teams move onto an American-style playoff system, including wild card berths.

Criticism from South Africa

It follows a failed attempt by 12 European clubs to form a Super League in April last year, which was ditched, for now, after it received significant backlash from fans, clubs and federations alike.

But criticism of the Africa Super League has been limited largely to South Africa. 

"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," warned the player's union in South Africa earlier this week, while Cape Town City FC owner John Comitis called it "a super silly idea."

"The Super League will kill African club football," he warned. "You can switch off the lights on the domestic leagues."

oa/mf (Reuters/AP)