The Confederation of African Football (CAF) launched the new Super League on Wednesday, with prizes amounting to 100 million dollars, with the aim of injecting financial strength into the continent’s struggling clubs.
The president of the Confederation of Confederations, South Africa Patrice Motsepe, announced the revolutionary tournament supported by the International Federation of the game “FIFA”, despite the fact that a similar initiative in Europe was abandoned in 2021.
The first edition will take place in August 2023 and will end in May 2024, with the participation of 24 teams from the best African clubs, although it has not been revealed if it will replace the Champions League or the equivalent competition, the Confederations Cup. .
“The CAF Super League is a very important initiative,” Motsebe said at the league’s launch in the northern Tanzanian city of Arusha. One of the biggest problems in Africa is finances.” He added: “The CAF Super League is one of the most advanced steps in the history of African football and the objective of what we are trying to achieve is very clear: to ensure that the football of African clubs is world class and competes with the best in the world”.
“We intend to use $100 million in prize money and do this every year in the Super League, so that the winner gets $11.5 million,” he added.
Motsebe said CAF will use $50 million from the Super League to make football attractive, ensure the survival of Africa’s best players and improve the quality of the sport on the continent.
And he added: “Each of the 24 clubs that will participate in the first edition will receive an annual contribution of three and a half million dollars to buy players and pay the costs of signing and transferring players.”
Motsebe called on African governments to help build stadiums to CAF standards to ensure all teams play in their own country.
But not everyone was happy with the launch of this league, with Cape Town owner John Cometis describing it as “a very ridiculous idea… the Super League will do away with African club competitions”.
The “African Super League” is a lifeline for clubs in financial trouble
African club owners have complained for decades about the costs of competing in today’s top competition, the CAF Champions League, which offers the first-place finisher $2.5 million in prize money from a prizes of only 12.5 million dollars.
That’s why 60-year-old South African billionaire businessman and CAF president Motsebe admitted after his club, Mamelodi Sundowns, won the African Champions League in 2016, that prize money doesn’t cover all expenses.
In this sense, Motsebe assured that “more profitable businesses await us”, since this Wednesday he will reveal the details of the Super League in the Tanzanian city of Arusha during a meeting of the “CAF” executive office.
He previously revealed that there would be $100 million in prize money and hinted that the champion would receive at least $10 million.
And the Swiss president of the International Federation of the game “FIFA”, Gianni Infantino, said earlier: “There are some African clubs that have millions of fans, and their owners have to pay money to compete in enough competitions.”
CAF Champions League prize money is paid only in the group stage, which means that 42 of the 58 participants in the 2023 edition will incur travel, accommodation and other expenses, but will receive no money from CAF.
In that context, Hamdi Meddeb, president of the Tunisian club Esperance, which won the Champions League four times, said: “If we think about what we spent in the Champions League, compared to what we achieved, it would be better not to play. in that.”
“Africa is a huge continent and sometimes we have to charter flights at a cost of more than $100,000 each,” he said.
“When we won the Champions League (in 2018 and 2019), more than half of the prize money was spent on bonuses and allowances for the team and coaching staff. These are contractual obligations.”
“We want the CAF Super League to be a global competition and to compete with the best in the world in terms of quality of football, resources, infrastructure, stadiums, referees and ticket sales,” Motsebe emphasized.
“The Super League will be organized in association with FIFA, which has great experience in managing the best competition in the world, the World Cup,” he added.
On the other hand, Infantino said: “The Super League is an exciting and unique project and FIFA is happy to help and share some of the experiences we have accumulated.”
While no additional details about the competition to be launched have been officially announced, it is believed that 24 clubs will take part in the first edition.
These clubs will be distributed as follows: eight from North Africa, which dominate football on the continent, eight from the center of the continent and eight from the south.
Invitations to compete in the new competition will be based on the results of the two annual tournaments, the African Champions League and the Confederation Cup.
In front of the participants from the north, the Moroccan Wydad Casablanca, the current champion, and his compatriot Raja Casablanca, in addition to Al-Ahly, the Egyptian Zamalek and Esperance.
Five-time African champions TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of the Congo are also certain to be among the clubs in midfield.
The Sundowns club, Pretoria owned by Motsebe and managed by his son Tulban, will also be among the participants from clubs from the South, whose clubs have reached the round of 16 in the continental competition since 2016.
A CAF official suggested that after the preliminary round, divided by geographic region, there will be three knockout stages before reaching the final.
In contrast to the enthusiasm for the new idea, not everyone seems to agree with the Super League, with John Cometis, owner of South African club Cape Town City, describing it as a “very ridiculous idea”.
And he warned that “the Super League is going to kill African football”, pointing out that “at that moment the lights of the local championships can be turned off”.