20 - 07
The Confederation of African Football has received proposals to would radically alter African tournaments, such as the inclusion of non-CAF members in its tournaments.
Reforms for its premier competition, the Africa Cup of Nations, include raising the number of competing national teams from the current 16, to 24; this will include 3-4 non-CAF teams, a suggestion that’s been greeted with furor over the possibility of such a non-CAF team winning what should be Africa’s greatest football honor.
While the expansion of AFCON has been hailed in some quarters, it has also brought up questions over whether the quality of the sport will suffer as a consequence of its relaxed rules.
Besides the inclusion of foreign teams, it’s also been proposed that the tournament can be held outside CAF nations, allowing nations such as USA or China, which have adequate sports facilities, to host AFCON. This could be implemented as from 2023.
AFCON, which currently runs from January to February, is likely to be rescheduled to be held from June to July; for Europe-based African players, this is a relief as the current format forces an inevitable tug-of-war between the players’ national teams and their clubs whenever the tournament is on.
A proposal to set the tournament once every four years was hot down, meaning that it sticks to its biennial format.
The proposals may seem a bit strange to some, but CAF is hardly pioneering something radical, especially with regards to the inclusion of non-CAF members into their tournaments.
The CONMEBOL federation, which represents South American nations, has invited national teams from Europe for its 2019 tournament, and played its centenary edition tournament in the USA, which falls in the CONCACAF federation.
Traditionally too, the CONMEBOL tournament, Copa America, has included two teams from outside their federation.