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African Cup Of Nations

Open Letter from AIPS Africa to CAF President Patrice Motsepe

March 12, 2021 – A new wind was blowing through the Confederation of African Football (CAF) on the verge of a financial impasse. The continental football governing body was running up an annual financial deficit close to 10 million US dollars, according to Fouzi Lekjaa, Chairman of its Finance Committee..

Thanks to your contacts and above all, your managerial skills, CAF is well on its way to restoring financial health. This is evidenced by the support of your Foundation, which has donated 10 million US Dollars for the organization for the African School Football Championship to train and prepare tomorrow’s leaders.

Your determination to make CAF competitive and autonomous is therefore unambiguous.


However, Mr. President, the stuttering and uncertainties surrounding the programming of the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) leave many wondering about the future of our continent’s most prestigious competition, which is struggling to find a place in the international calendar.

Added to this, the external influences and the overload of the international calendar, modelled on the European interests, increases the scepticism surrounding the survival of CAF’s most lucrative and economically viable tournament.


Since 2017, African football has been struggling to control its agenda. Recurring scheduling problems have made CAF a victim of collateral damage from the ‘war’ between UEFA and FIFA. Indeed, the European Football governing body contributed to overloading the international calendar with the creation of the Nations League, which is played on FIFA dates.

As a result, therefore, it is rare, if not impossible, for an African team to find a European team to spar with, except when they share the same group in a World Cup draw every four years.


As for FIFA, in addition to the Arab World Cup, it has also created the Club World Cup. Worse still, it decided to stage the latter competition from June 15 to July 13, 2025, a period initially chosen by Morocco to host the AFCON 2025. In fact, Cairo’s dependence on Zurich enabled FIFA’s latest competition to happily shake up the 67-year-old African Cup of Nations.

Now, Mr. President, the changeover of the African flagship competition from an even-numbered year to an odd-numbered year is a logical response to the demands of African players, who often arrive exhausted when the organization of the AFCON, in an even-numbered year, coincides with the World Cup year.


With this in mind and concerned with the performance of African teams and above all, concerned about the health of our footballers – competing in two major competitions in a single year can be exhausting hence CAF decided to organize its first AFCON in 2013, in an odd-numbered year firstly in South Africa.

This change had the merit of settling the age-old question of whether African stars would be able to take part in the AFCON; confronted as they were with a dilemma between answering the call of their nations and the risk of losing a hard earned place in their clubs, or even failing to secure a contract with an employer during AFCON period on January-February.


Aside from all this Mr. President, we would also like to draw your attention to the frequency of the AFCON. Organizing the competition every two years, rather than every Olympiad, is in line with a policy carefully thought out by your illustrious predecessors, including President Issa Hayatou. This logic has also enabled several countries to build first-class sports infrastructures, whilst others modernized theirs.

As a reminder, during the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, more than 23 African countries had their stadiums condemned and unfit to host internationally sanctioned matches by FIFA/CAF leaving these countries wondering with their fans where could they be hosted amicably.

It is therefore easy to understand Mr. President, why the period and frequency of the African Cup of Nations seems non-negotiable, as they contribute immensely to the development of football in our continent.


Consequently, it is the duty of CAF, as a legal entity, to defend and protect African competitions so as to avoid their extinction (the Women’s AFCON has once again been postponed.  As for the CHAN, it has been put on ice for the moment…). This calls for amongst other things, the mastering of the continental agenda, the regularity of CAF competitions and the inclusion of these competitions in the international calendar needs to be redesigned.

Moreover, it is important to deconstruct the image of Africa as a prominent stakeholder in the global game with huge voice of 54 member associations and votes being presented as an electoral cattle-tank, to be adequately given their fair share during debates and dialogues with FIFA, by offering constructive solutions with a view to accelerating a reform of the international calendar. It is therefore expected from CAF leaders to ensure respect for African football which is full of great administrators and players alike.


We would like to remind you that many of the continent’s public figures, including heads of states, African football leaders, active and/or retired football players, as well as a wide range of other various stakeholders have all contributed to the king of the African sports getting back on track.

We cannot share our concerns with you, Mr. President without recalling the central role played by our Heads of States, the African Union and their commitment to  the development of youth, sport and football in particular.

These African heads of state include Félix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo, then President of the African Union, Alassane Dramane Ouattara of Ivory Coast, Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, George Weah and Macky Sall, respectively former Presidents of Liberia and Senegal.

Mr. President, you claim to be a disciple of Nelson Mandela and a well respectable man. A man of principles. So do kindly refuse and remain our inspiration than anything else.

Long live sport!

Long live Football!

Long live Africa Football!

AIPS Africa Executive Committee

Abdoulaye Thiam

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