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Buried even before its creation in Europe, the Super League will finally see the light of day… in Africa. Patrice Motsepe, the president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) announced, Wednesday, August 10 in Arusha, Tanzania, the launch, in 2023, of this competition which will bring together twenty-four clubs from sixteen countries on the continent. “African club football must be able to compete with the best”justified the leader of CAF.
In 2021, twelve European teams, including Real Madrid, Manchester United, Juventus Turin and FC Barcelona, had agreed to set up a similar competition, bringing together the cream of European football. But the project, presented in mid-April, had raised such a fuss that its initiators had to backtrack.
On the African side, the idea of Super League is less controversial. It was Gianni Infantino, the president of FIFA, who first mentioned it, in November 2019, during a trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo, then in February 2020 during a seminar in Morocco. Elected as head of CAF in March 2021, Patrice Motsepe quickly joined the project. A feasibility study was launched in 2021, followed by consultations with key players in African football.
An African Super Bowl
We now know the contours of the competition. In the first phase, the twenty-four teams will be divided according to geographical criteria – North Africa, Central and West Africa, South and East Africa – into three groups of eight, which will represent fourteen matches. for each of them. The first five of each group and the best of the sixth will qualify for the round of 16.
At this stage, the principle of geographical zones will be abandoned. A total of 197 matches will be played, including the final which should be held on neutral ground, and which CAF has already presented as an African Super Bowl, an allusion to the final of the American football championship.
According to Patrick Motsepe, the Super League will be endowed with 97 million euros, thanks to sponsors and broadcasting rights. A sum that will be distributed to the clubs involved. Each participant will receive during the first edition 2,420,000 euros. The winner of the competition will pocket 11,100,000 euros. By way of comparison, the conquest of the current African Champions League brings in 2,420,000 euros and that of the Confederation Cup 1,210,000 euros.
Clubs like Espérance de Tunis (Tunisia), Wydad de Casablanca and Raja de Casablanca (Morocco), JS de Kabylie and ES de Sétif (Algeria), Zamalek and Al-Ahly (Egypt) , Enyimba (Nigeria), TP Mazembe and AS Vita Club (DRC) or South African formations such as the Orlando Pirates or the Mamelodi Sundows, who have all won the Champions League at least once, have strong chances of integrating the list of twenty-four.
A “risk of widening inequalities”
If we are far from the almost unanimous hostility that prevailed in Europe a year ago, the project has, for the moment, received a mixed reception on the African continent. Thus, the former Cameroonian star Roger Milla does not hide his skepticism. “It would probably have been better to improve the two competitions that already exist [à savoir la Ligue des champions d’Afrique et la Coupe de la CAF], pleads the former striker of the Indomitable Lions. With this Super League, I am afraid that they are on the contrary less and less attractive. »
This is also the fear of the leader of a West African club interviewed by The World Africafor whom this Super League “ risk of widening inequalities”. ” I look forward, he slips, to see which major sponsors will invest because, from what we know, CAF is not in a very good economic situation. And she plays big with this project. »
Tunisian Nabil Maâloul, who coaches Espérance de Tunis, is less categorical: “ The best African teams will participate, which will give rise to high level matches. It should attract people. But I would like this league not to be totally closed and that it is not always the same teams that compete. »
The former coach of the Eagles of Carthage, who wonders about “the long-term viability of the Champions League and the CAF Cup”, advocates a flow of revenue generated by this new competition. ” This needs to benefit the whole of African football, not just a few “, he underlines.