Gianni Infantino, president of football’s world governing body International Federation of Association Football (FIFA), on Saturday has proposed an Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) held every four years, instead of the current two years’ interval.
“What I’m asking you, and it’s your decision, is to discuss and consider moving to a Nations Cup every four years,” Infantino told African football leaders, who were delegates from each of the 54 member associations of the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
“The AFCON generates 20 times less than the Euros. Having the AFCON every two years, is that good at the commercial level? Has this developed the infrastructure? Think about spending it every four years,” Infantino said during their meeting in Rabat, capital of Morocco.
“We have been talking about the development of African football for many years. Pele once said that an African team would win the World Cup, but this hasn’t happened and it seems we are not making progress. Today must be the day we turn that page” Infantino said.
“Our objective must be to project African football to the top of the world,” he said.
The AFCON is currently staged every two years, which makes it unpopular with European clubs.
Last year, the AFCON in Egypt was expanded to 24 teams and held in June and July for the first time.
Next AFCON in 2021 will be held in Cameroon and revert back to its original calendar in January and February.
Members of the South African women football team before an international friendly with the Netherlands at the Cape Town Stadium in Cape Town, South Africa, January 19, 2019.
A joint FIFA/CAF strategy
The FIFA president unveiled a joint FIFA/CAF strategy for the elevation of African football focused on three key pillars: refereeing, investment mobilization and competition development, according to the organization’s Twitter.
Refereeing will see the creation of a group of professional referees financed and organized by FIFA in partnership with CAF.
“We will take 20 of the best African FIFA referees, professionalize them, and give them permanent, professional contracts,” said Infantino.
For investment mobilization, FIFA and CAF will assemble a panel of partners and a minimum fund of one billion U.S. dollars to make solid and sustainable infrastructural investments in Africa.
“We are elaborating a proposal to mobilize one billion U.S. dollars to build at least one top stadium in the countries of each of FIFA and CAF’s 54 member associations,” Infantino added.
For competitions, FIFA will seek range of new initiatives: creation of a women’s world nations league, more frequent youth championships, more youth categories, repositioning of AFCON to be played every four years and creation of new pan-African club competition.