Saudi Arabia may pick African Super League tab


Saudi Arabia in talks to sponsor African Super League Image: Ellis Park Stadium, Leglo09, CC BY-SA 2.0

Saudi Arabia is in talks with the Confederation of African Football (CAF) over a $200m (£160m) deal to sponsor the new African Super League, in an agreement that could help to secure the continent’s support for any future World Cup bid.

‘The Guardian’ stated that the CAF had been due to launch the 24-team tournament that has been heavily supported by the FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, in August as part of plans to raise the global profile of African clubs and generate increased revenue.

6th of October City, Egypt-based the Confederation of African Football, or CAF for short, is the administrative and controlling body for association football, futsal and beach soccer in Africa.

The Africa Super League will be an annual continental club football competition run by the CAF that is set to kick off in August 2023. It was announced on November 28th, 2019 by Gianni Infantino, President of FIFA.

‘The Guardian’ further stated that the Super League, first mooted by Infantino in 2018 and announced by the CAF’s President, Patrice Motsepe, in October, is planned to have prize fund of $100m that includes $11.6m for the winner – almost $8m more than currently on offer for the winners of the African Champions League – and a solidarity fund bringing each of the 54 CAF member-associations $1m a year towards football development.

However, it is understood its start will be delayed until the 2024-2025 seasons when the sponsorship deal with Saudi Arabia is expected to begin and that a slimmed-down version featuring only eight teams will run from October 17th to November 30th next season. Talks with Saudi Arabia are believed to have been taking place for some time and recently the CAF announced it had signed a five-year cooperation and development agreement with the Saudi Arabian Football Federation – a move it said would “foster growth opportunities for African and Saudi Arabian football”.

Riyadh (Saudi Arabia)-based the Saudi Arabian Football Federation is the football governing body of Saudi Arabia. Founded in 1956, its responsibilities include administration of club competitions and the national teams. The founder of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation is Prince Abdullah bin Faisal Al Saud.

They have signed a memorandum of understanding that will focus on initiatives around technical and football development at club and the national-team level and in grassroots football, women’s football, talent identification, competitions, friendly matches, and commercial opportunities.

Motsepe sent out a statement which read, “The CAF is excited to work together and partner with the Saudi Arabian Football Federation to develop and grow football on our continent and globally. There are also specific areas for mutually beneficial partnerships that we are discussing and announcements will be made in due course.”

It is understood that the CAF has been struggling financially since a $1bn television and marketing rights deal with the French company Lagardère Sports was canceled in 2019. The CAF did not comment on a potential Saudi sponsorship of the Super League.

The Saudi Arabia has been strongly rumored to be considering an unprecedented three-continent project to host the 2030 World Cup despite FIFA’s rules preventing the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) nations from hosting a men’s World Cup until 2034 after the selection of Qatar for the 2022 tournament. A mooted partnership with Greece and Egypt appears unlikely after the Egyptian Sports Minister said last month his country was not planning to submit a bid before June’s deadline and it is understood the Saudi Arabia now sees the 2034 edition as a more feasible option for what would be another Winter World Cup given the extreme Summer temperatures there.

The 2030 FIFA World Cup™ will be the 24th FIFA World Cup™, a quadrennial international football tournament contested by the men’s national teams of the member-associations of FIFA. This event will mark the end of the first century of the World Cup competition.

Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)-based the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) is the governing body of association football, beach football and futsal in some countries/territories in Asia and Oceania. It has 47 member-countries most of which are located in Asia. Australia, formerly in the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC), joined the AFC in 2006.

Saudi Arabia will host the FIFA Club World Cup™ (international men’s association football competition) in December and then the Asia Cup for the first time in January 2027. Infantino is known to have a good relationship with the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, after they sat in the same Executive Box for the Anthony Joshua (British professional boxer) vs. Oleksandr Usyk (Ukrainian professional boxer) heavyweight boxing rematch in Jeddah in August.

Infantino said of the new African Super League in October, “There is a huge will to invest in a project like this, which will give a new visibility to African football. The growth of African club and national-team football contributes to the growth of world football. The competition will benefit each and every country, not just with the solidarity payment, but the exposure for African football.”

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