African Super League: What did we learn?

Patrice Motsepe & Gianni Infantino AFCONGetty Images

Confederation of African Football president Dr Patrice Motsepe confirmed during the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations that the African Super League will be launched in August 2023, but heading into Wednesday’s Caf General Assembly there were still many unanswered questions around the new competition.

Some of those issues were answered in Arusha on Wednesday, as Motsepe and Fifa president Gianni Infantino moved to unveil various key elements of the Super League proposal.

Here are some of the key things we learned from the presentation.

  • Dr Patrice Motsepe of CafBackpagePix

    There will be relegation/promotion

    One of the reasons why the breakaway European Super League received such criticism is because it was a closed shop, with no risks for the teams included to be relegated, and little-to-no prospect for teams outside the Super League to be included.

    Motsepe and Infantino confirmed on Wednesday that there will be a promotion-relegation element to the competition, giving the whole of Africa the chance to dream of reaching the Super League.

  • Ghana Fans.GFA.

    At least 16 countries will be represented

    Caf also revealed—somewhat vaguely—that at least 16 countries would be represented in the Super League, at least ensuring that at least 29 percent of the continent’s 54 states will be featured.

    However, we’re yet to learn which countries get representation, or indeed, which 16 countries will have at least one guaranteed spot in the Super League.

    Infantino said that the tournament “will benefit each and every country,” although it remains to be seen how.

  • Siyabonga Ngezana, Kaizer Chiefs & Gaston Sirino, Mamelodi Sundowns, May 2022Backpagepix

    Countries cannot have more than three participants

    Caf’s documentation around the Super League confirms that there can be a maximum of three teams from each nation in the tournament.

    This will come as interesting news—particularly—for South Africa, where one would image that the heavyweight trio of Mamelodi Sundowns, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates will surely lock down South Africa’s three berths for the competition.

    How could the PSL’s other clubs—the likes of AmaZulu or SuperSport United—or even the trio of Royal AM, Stellenbosch and Cape Town City FC (all of whom finished ahead of Pirates and Chiefs last season) hope to ever compete in the Super League?

  • Wydad AC 2022.Backpagepix.

    Financial incentives

    Money—both the money to be made and the money to be dished out—is a key focus of the Super League, and a key motivation behind the launch of the competition as Motsepe and Infantino look to raise the level of the continental game.

    Motsepe announced that the first 24 participants in the competition will each receive an initial cash injection of $2.5 million, as the Caf president looks to help competing teams offset the costs of travel, accommodation and logistics within the African game.

    Motsepe also reaffirmed information we already knew—that each member association will receive $1 million, and the winners are in line to receive $11.6 million.

  • RS Berkane of Morocco.Backpagepix.

    There will be three groups of eight teams

    Following—presumably—qualifying rounds, the 24 participants will feature in three groups of eight teams, with the top five teams and the best placed sixth-placed team progressing to the knockouts.

    The progressing teams would then contest a Round of 16 and then onwards to a final that—in Motsepe and Infantino’s vision—is intended to be African football’s Super Bowl.

    The three groups will be regionalised, although the exact nature of those regions have not yet been disclosed.

  • Zizo Zamalek Ceramica CleopatraZamalek Twitter

    The tournament scheduling

    On Wednesday, it was confirmed that the African Super League would run from August to May.

    This would fit in with the traditional European football calendar—rather than the January to December schedule favoured by some African countries.

    The maiden tournament is set to begin in August 2023, and will conclude—with the Super Bowl-like final—in May 2024.