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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Super League, women’s football and refereeing on the agenda at CAF General Assembly

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) carried out its 45th Ordinary General Assembly on Thursday in Abidjan, Ivory Coast with several items on the agenda for CAF president Patrice Motsepe and the continent’s football administrators. Motsepe praised the growth of African football and its rising popularity worldwide as well as CAF’s initiative to increase prize money and investment in youth and women’s football.

Regarding CAF club competitions for the 2023-24 season, the proposed African Super League will kick off in the forthcoming season under its new name, the African Football League (AFL). The inaugural edition of the AFL will kick off on October 24 with eight of Africa’s top clubs participating. FIFA president Gianni Infantino, accompanying Motsepe at the assembly, stated that there are plans to expand the AFL to twenty-four teams in future editions.

CAF has still not announced which eight clubs will participate and details still are yet to be announced regarding sponsorship and broadcasting. Reuters reports that the eight clubs appear likely to include South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns, Petro de Luanda of Angola, TP Mazembe of DR Congo, reigning CAF Champions League winners Al Ahly of Egypt, Horoya AC of Guinea, Morocco’s Wydad AC, Simba SC of Tanzania and Tunisia’s Espérance ST.

The AFL will run alongside the CAF Champions League and the CAF Confederation Cup with a slightly different format for both long-standing competitions. The Playoff round of the Confederation Cup has been scrapped and one of the preliminary stages of the Champions League was also discontinued to reduce the amount of matches in each tournament.

Motsepe had plenty of praise for CAF’s work in promoting and investing in women’s football on the continent. The 2023 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations saw unprecedented success and attendance with CAF pledging to continue its investment in the women’s game. The African footballing body also pledged to invest further in efforts to develop refereeing with a $550,000 contribution to introduce Video Assistant Referee (VAR) as well as training for each African sub-confederation.

CAF acknowledged a financial loss for the fiscal year but stressed that revenue increased by 17%, a figure the organization believes will improve. The financial loss for the past year is believed to be heavily influenced by an out of court settlement between CAF and French company Lagardère after CAF pulled out of a ten-year, $1 billion broadcasting and marketing rights deal.