The Africa Super League (formerly the CAF Champions League) debuted in Tanzania last month to much fanfare, with massive prize money on offer for the 24 clubs that qualify for the inaugural season next year. The current marquee competition, the CAF Champions League, awards $2.5 million to the winning team (2.4 million euros). The Super League champions will receive $11.5 million more in prize money across the whole competition.
The first season of the African Super League will begin in August 2023, run until May 2024, and culminate in a “Super Bowl-like” final. Here’s what we know about the Super League, a competition that is expected to give African football a significant boost.
What we know about the African Super League
The Super League will begin with three eight-club regional groups — north, west-center, and south-east — with each team playing the other seven teams both at home and away. The top five finishers in each section, as well as the best sixth-placed side, advance to a knockout phase that includes a round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals, and a final over two legs.
Qualifiers will be determined by rankings based on CAF competition results over an unspecified time period. The new edition of the African Super League (formerly the CAF Champions League) will reportedly feature clubs from 16 countries, with a maximum of three from each.
CAF president Patrice Motsepe stated that each qualifier would receive $3.5 million up front to cover travel and accommodation expenses as well as squad strengthening. Historically, travel expenses have severely depleted the funds of Champions League competitors, with only the 16 clubs that advance to the group stage receiving prize money ranging from $550,000 to $1 million.
All 197 group and knockout matches will use VAR, which CAF hopes will significantly reduce the number of complaints about biased refereeing. FIFA President Gianni Infantino has also proposed the formation of an elite panel of full-time African referees who would be paid by FIFA, with poor performance resulting in demotion.
Rox and Ken discuss what they’re looking forward to about the Super League and how they think it will help the profile of African football.