(Reuters) – FIFA President Gianni Infantino has proposed holding the African Nations Cup (AFCON) every four years instead of every two years, and plans to create a Pan-African Super League with 20 permanent member clubs.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino praised after being elected a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) during the 135th meeting on January 10, 2020 in Lausanne. REUTERS / Denis Balibouse
At a seminar in Rabat, the FIFA President complained about the development of African football that football in the region had not progressed as expected and that it "wanted to bring African football to the top of the world".
Infantino's comments came less than a month after the African Football Confederation decided to move the AFCON tournament back to the traditional January course in Cameroon from June to July next year.
However, a game from June to July would have meant continuing the redesigned FIFA Club World Cup in China.
"We have been talking about the development of African football for many years," said Infantino. "Pelé once said that an African team would win the FIFA World Cup, but it didn't, and we don't seem to be making any progress." Today must be the day we turn this page.
“The (AFCON) generates twenty times less than the Euro (European Championship). On a commercial level, is it good to have a CAN every two years? Did this develop the infrastructure? Remember to spend it every four years. "
Infantino then released details of his proposal for a Pan-African league that he had developed in collaboration with CAF.
"I want to create a real pan-African league, in which there are 20 to 24 clubs with a maximum of two clubs per country, who still play in their national league but play during the year so that we can really crown the club master of Africa," he said.
FIFA said in a statement that the permanent member clubs would be asked to invest $ 20 million annually over a five-year period and would also need to meet other eligibility criteria, such as investments in youth and women's football.
FIFA added that the competition would have a sales potential of $ 3 billion in a five-year cycle – and would create the conditions for African football to retain some of the continent's most talented players.
CAF is currently organizing two continental competitions for clubs – the CAF Champions League for national champions and runners-up from the larger leagues and the CAF Confederation Cup for lower-ranking teams.
Infantino also announced a plan to invest $ 1 billion in the construction of “at least one top stadium” in each of Africa's 54 FIFA member associations. Where there were already good stadiums, the investments were used for other infrastructures.
He also planned to form a group of 20 referees to be professionalized. "Referees have to be beyond any doubt and we have to protect them for that," he said.
"We will take 20 of the best African FIFA referees, professionalize them and give them permanent, professional contracts."
Written by Brian Homewood; Edited by Christian Radnedge