“This competition will change African Football landscape”- FIFA President on AFL

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Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) President Gianni Infantino has stated that he is of the opinion that the introduction of the African Football League (AFL) will bring a new dynamism to the game on the African continent.

The first edition of the AFL commenced on October 20 with the opening game played between Tanzania’s Simba Sc and Egyptian giants, Al Ahly ending in an eventful 2-2 draw at the Benjamin Mkapa Stadium of Dar Es Salaam.

The competition was initially staged to feature 24 participating clubs but the inaugural tournament commenced on Friday from the quarter final stages due to the withdrawal of other involved clubs who had issues and complications, leaving behind just 8 clubs to engage in a knockout system in the AFL.

The 8 clubs taking part in the AFL Include Al Ahly (Egypt), Wydad Casablanca (Morocco), Tp Mazembe (Dr Congo), Petro de Luanda (Angola), Simba Sc (Tanzania), Enyimba Sc (Nigeria), Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa) and Esperance de Tunis (Tunisia) with each Confederation of African Football (CAF) nation allocated one membership slot.

FIFA President, Gianni Infantino graced the ocassion and was a part of the opening Ceremony at the Mkapa National stadium of Da er Salam. The overseer of football related activities across the globe opined that the initiative will help improve the dynamics of African football.

“I think this competition will change the landscape of African football because it allows, of course the teams from all over Africa as of next season – to play each other more frequently and for them to become better,” he said.

His assertion was in line with the words of CAF president Patrice Motsepe on the AFL’s importance.

“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,” CAF president said in July after confirming the launch of the eight-team version.

CAF had initially promised $100m in prize money with $11.5m for the winner of the competition, each team will be guaranteed $1m for taking part in the inaugural season, and the overall winner will walk away with $4m – still a hefty sum, equal to what the CAF Champions League winners receive while playing much fewer games.

The organizers of the AFL insist that the competition, which will run concurrently with CAF’s Champions League criteria for participation in the tournament is based on point ranking on the continent and will be expanded to 24 teams in 2024.

The organisers however insist that the AFL, which will run concurrently with CAF’s Champions League, is a precursor to the fully fledged AFL competition next season, which will feature the 22 highest-ranked football African clubs.

Story by: Andrews Sefa Bamfo | universnews.ug.edu.gh 

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