What Europe rejects Africa embraces. That’s the short of it when it comes to the controversial African Super League. An idea shot down emphatically by the soccer constituency in Europe was quickly bought and repackaged to suit the ever growing hunger for competitive soccer on the mother continent. Africa has made itself a willing guinea pig. The ASL was launched last week ,amid excitement and uncertainty in Africa, by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) which will run parallel to the existing African Champions League. Unlike the ACL, the ASL will have a prechosen 24 teams with a maximum of three from each country. The clubs will be bankrolled to the tune of USD2.5 million each with winner getting USD11.6 million. Clubs in Africa have always complained about the cost of participating in Pan African tournaments. This will go a long way. Except that the 24 clubs chosen for the League are already well funded and well established. Some of the clubs from North Africa , South Africa and DRC have a sizeable budget compared to the smaller Sub Saharan clubs. This again leads us to the question of relegation and promotion of those smaller clubs. A major issue which led to the collapse of the UEFA version was the lack of transparency with regards to that. The answer is yes. This is a major advantage that will win it more fans in the long run.

So what about the ACL? Wouldn’t it relegate Africa’s premier club tournament to a B rated side show? I think yes. Why would a club chairman invest in a competition which pays a measly 1 million dollars after incurring cost overheads of 10 million? The Super League also kills the need to compete in national soccer leagues as the profit gain from it far exceeds them. So how exactly it develops African soccer , only Patrice Motsepe and Gianni Infantino know. I believe there will be no tournament worth it’s salt without the fans and adequate stadia. The quality of stadiums in Africa leaves a lot to be desired even for so called African giants in Nigeria , Senegal and South Africa. I would rather have funds channeled into getting the right infrastructure in place to hold games and give fans a good experience. Only North African countries and South Africa have stadiums considered to be top notch. Another serious red flag that’s coming with the Super League is where the funds are coming from.

The sponsors are yet to be revealed and issues of sports washing have immediately set my antenna off. The sponsors need to be guys of repute, guys with good human rights records and guys that will ultimately sustain the competition over a large period and not bail and leave CAF in the lurch. Now we have concentrated on the negatives enough. Here is finally my positive. The amount of money flowing from the broadcasting of the Super League is bound to reverse the long time trend of African talent seeking lucrative pastures in Europe. Exposure will be there for the players. I really think if organized well, the League might see talent from Asia, South America and Europe make their way to the continent. For that to happen the purse definitely needs to be raised from the current 100 million dollars, but that can happen with time. The African Super League is scheduled to start in August of 2023 and will run into 2024.