Confusion in African football…who is to blame?

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By Anesu Chakanetsa

IT is a clash of organisation and the vagaries of weather. 

It seems Africa is always at the receiving end of the so-called global leaders of football who dictate football organisation.

Currently, nature is wreaking havoc in the West African country of Cote D’voire where the nation is counting losses due to incessant rains that have led to floods. 

In climatology, the months of June and July are generally unfriendly to countries North of the Equator, where the North Antlantic Trade winds bring forth moist air that connect with the moist air from tropical forests, causing heavy tropical rains.

The trial and error was the best way to calculate simultaneous equations for some, and it seems the Confederarion of African Football (CAF) too like that method.

Next year this time, Cote D’voire would have been hosting the AFCON, but it’s no longer going to happen, CAF has confirmed. 

After a study done by CAF, it’s actually difficult to host AFCON tourneys in the months of June and July in West Africa due to weather concerns. 

The Cameroon 2021 tournament dates were shifted from June 2021 to January 2022 due to that concern though the major one was the COVID-19 pandemic.

Well, the former statement holds a lot of water, especially considering the nature of African geography.

Africa is a colossal landmass where climate varies from time-to-time and from place-to-place; it is the biggest island in the World. 

Currently, it’s winter in the south, with heavy rains in the West, while there are some hot conditions in the north. 

In January, it will be rains in Southern Africa, which means if a Southern African country were to host the tournament, CAF would consider boking it for June/July since  it would be winter. 

However, thrice the tournament has been held in Southern Africa but not  any weather issues affected anything. 

Climatology patterns explain that rains in West Africa are so intense and prolonged due the tropical savanna type weather. There are high temperarures that create intense rainfall.

This is also complimented by the saturated air from the North Atlantic Trade Winds which  rise and get cooled, creating rains, a phenomena known as saturated adiabatic lapse rate.

While it’s impossible to host AFCON tournaments in June/July, these are also the months where big tournaments, like the World Cup, Euros and the Oympics, happen. 

These tournaments are held in even years. 

In 2012, CAF resolved the tournament be held in odd numbered years starting from 2013. In 2017, they agreed to hold the tourney in the months of June and July so as not to disturb leagues that are not held in a calendar year, largely the European leagues.

This came about when some unscrupulous European clubs were refusing to send African players for the AFCON tournament when it was held in January to February.

So what is the best time to host this prestigious African showpiece?

This presentation has raised certain factors affecting scheduling of AFCON.

First, there are weather patterns in West Africa, where major leagues will be on off-season.

Second, major leagues will be wanting to get hold of African players in January and February; in fact from August to May the following year save for international breaks on FIFA’s calendar.

But that fact raises a lot of eyebrows, because African players belong to African countries. 

Africa is their roots. 

Since Peter Ndllovu, the first black African to play in the English Premier League (EPL)  in 1992, there has been an influx of African players to the EPL and other major leagues in Europe. 

Therefore, teams cannot do without these players. For example, Liverpool did not have three starters during AFCON 2021, that is Sadio Mane, Muhammed Salah and Naby Keita. 

Senegalese Sadio Mane
Egyptian Salah against Benfica

But the scheduling of AFCON in Jan-Feb seems to be the best time to host it because that’s the time when the weather would be friendly, especially in West Africa which is guaranteed the next two showpieces. And that’s where Africa will not disturb the so-called big international tournaments. 

European clubs should consider that arrangement for a while until maybe the tournament comes to Southern Africa.

But naturally, Southern African countries, save for South Africa,  seem to be too reluctant to host the tournament.

They haven’t been continuously sending bids, like what North and West African countries do. Only South Africa is ever-ready to host tournaments. 

The tournament, after the Cote D’voire one, is going to be held in Guinea. 

Maybe the next will be in Morocco or Rwanda since these two countries are building massive sporting infrastructure with their own money. 

In recent times, CAF is managing a lot of tournaments or cup trophies. 

Recently, CAF president Patrice Motsepe confirmed that a CAF Super League is going to be introduced in August. 

There is also the CHAN tournament which is also held biennially and there is all those juniour competitions.

Right now, the African Womens Cup of Nations is going on in Morocco, ‘The kingdom of light’, where there are hot to mild conditions.

Meanwhile, the tournament in Morocco has been embroiled in controversy as the slippery Zambia captain Barbra Banda was banned from representing his country for possessing high levels of natural testosterone, a hormone that is largely found in men. 

But Banda was allowed to play during the Olympics in Tokyo last year and is allowed to play at club level internationally. 

There is a big smelly rat here, probably the host are afraid of the powerful Southern African Shepolopolo team. 

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