African Football League: Gianni Infantino Admits New Competition Will Take African Football To Next Level

Published on: 05 September 2023
African Football League: Gianni Infantino Admits New Competition Will Take African Football To Next Level
Gianni Infantino, FIFA President.

FIFA president, Gianni Infantino has hailed the introduction of the African Football League as the world governing football body admits that the new competition has the full potential to take African football to the next level.

Last month, CAF revealed that Africa’s highest ranked football clubs will compete in the exciting new ‘Super’ competition, the Inaugural African Football League (AFL) which is designed to showcase the best of African club football and provide football fans in Africa and around the world, the opportunity to see and enjoy the very best of the beautiful game on the African Continent.

Assessing the big development in Africa's football, Gianni Infantino sees the new African Football League (AFL) as 'a great and effective way of taking African football to the next level'  as gathered by during the continental competition’s inaugural edition draw in Cairo, Egypt.

“At FIFA, it is our mission to make football truly global, and we have always believed in the development of football in Africa, something our FIFA Forward programme has helped underline,” said Mr. Infantino in a recorded video message.

“This competition is a great and effective way of taking African football to the next level, and that is something I am personally delighted to see,” he added.

The AFL is a partnership between CAF and FIFA. The Inaugural edition of the AFL will feature 8 of Africa’s most famous and successful teams from the 3 African Regional Blocks which are: the North Region, the Central-West Region and the South-East Region.

The draw for the inaugural African Football League (AFL) quarter-finals in Cairo with  mouthwatering ties between some of the continent's biggest clubs has already been conducted earlier this month with the quarter-final first legs set to take place from October 20-22.

The draw, featuring teams from across the entire continent, was as follows: Simba Sports Club (Tanzania) v Al Ahly FC (Egypt), Tout Puissant Mazembe (Congo DR) v Espérance Sportive de Tunis (Tunisia), Enyimba Football Club (Nigeria) v Wydad Athletic Club (Morocco) and Atlético Petróleos de Luanda (Angola) v Mamelodi Sundowns FC (South Africa).

He further allayed that competition would drive foreign and domestic investment in African football, provide the perfect stage for the continent’s best clubs and players to compete against each other and engage more fans, both in Africa and the rest of the world. It would also set the standard for sustained development, accessibility and inclusivity in Africa.

“We have had just two African finalists in the history of the FIFA Club World Cup,” said the FIFA President referring to Tout Puissant Mazembe and Raja Casablanca, runners-up in 2010 and 2013 respectively. “This competition will help these teams develop the footballing and financial muscle to consistently match - and perhaps then defeat - the very best the rest of the world has to offer.”

All matches will be streamed live on the AFL website and televised by CAF’s broadcast partners with the 2023 edition serving as an appetiser for an expanded 24-team competition in the 2024/25 campaign.

“FIFA has been supporting CAF and the AFL by sharing its wealth of organisational and logistical expertise, and I am proud to say that CAF and the AFL have done a wonderful job in what they have put in place so far to bring this competition to life,” explained Mr. Infantino.

“While this first edition will certainly be fantastic, I’m already looking forward to the future, and the opportunities of the next edition, which will be expanded to feature 24 teams representing over 16 different countries.

The 2023 competition starts with quarter-final ties played on a home-and-away basis, and the semi-finals and final will also be contested over two legs. The opening ceremony and the first match will take place in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on 20 October.

By Olaleye Oluwadamilola