Nigeria is a happier nation because the Super Eagles are in the semi-finals of AFCON. This current AFCON tournament in Egypt is the 32nd edition. We’d take a look back at the origin of AFCON and how it has evolved over the years from its original aim.
In the beginning: The inaugural AFCON tournament was held in 1957 to celebrate the formation of the confederation of African Football (CAF). One of the major goals of AFCON, when it was founded, was to assert Africans’ equality with Europeans, who still colonised most of the continent at the time.
How AFCON has fared over the years:
Equality: In 1976, South Africa a founding member of CAF was expelled from CAF and banned from AFCON for 18 years for insisting it’d select only White Players.
Time of event: Since it’s inception AFCON was always held between January and February when weather conditions are most suitable in most African countries but this year, it was moved to summer – a period of very high heat or heavy rain – in order to fit the summer break period for European clubs. This move reflects the difficulty of resisting the commercial dominance of European football as there will no longer be a direct competition with European club matches for television viewers. The new schedule also protects the commercial value of African players in Europe who will no longer have to miss two months of club matches.
Foreign-based players: Before 1982, there was a limit of each team having only 2 foreign-based players but when it was clear that the best players were increasingly playing abroad CAF realised that keeping those players out of AFCON would diminish the quality of the competition. So the limit was lifted causing an influx of foreign-based players into National teams.
To give home-based players more action 2007 CAF introduced a new competition, the African Nations Championship (CHAN) solely for domestic players but CHAN hasn’t attained the global appeal status of AFCON.
Access to watch the games has also been a problem: Ticket prices are higher than most people’s wages and regular TV stations don’t show these matches again as the broadcasting rights have been sold to the highest bidder – expensive subscription services.
Bottom line: AFCON was founded to uphold African Solidarity and Autonomy but over the years it has still bent to pressures from Europe. (Tweet this)