The kick-off of the new eight-team African Football League was confirmed for Oct. 20 by FIFA president Gianni Infantino, who made the announcement at the Confederation of Africa Football’s (CAF) General Assembly in Abidjan on Thursday.
The competition has been drastically scaled down from the original proposal of 24 teams.
“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 teams.
Reuters understands the eight are set to be South African champions Mamelodi Sundowns, who are owned by the family of CAF president Patrice Motsepe, Petro Atletico from Angola, 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. When initially proposed, CAF promised $100-million in prize money with $11.5 for the winner.
One of the spin-offs was to be a solidarity fund that will see each of the 54 member associations of CAF receive $1-million per year towards football development. It is not clear if that remains the case.
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, with the new league 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 on Thursday.
He also called on the association president and governments across the continent to invest more in the game.
“We have a huge amount of confidence that the progress we are making and with the talent we have in Africa, it will result in an African nation winning the World Cup (one day).
“But we have to spend money on coaching the coaches, opening academies, and ensuring professional clubs have sufficient resources.”