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CAF Announces New Dates for 2025 AFCON



The Confederation of African Football (CAF) president, Patrice Motsepe, announced on Friday that the next Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) will be held in Morocco from December 21, 2025, to January 18, 2026.

“I am confident that the CAF AFCON Morocco 2025 will be extremely successful and the best AFCON in the history of this competition,” Motsepe said.

The announcement followed a virtual executive committee meeting at CAF headquarters in Cairo on Friday evening. The tournament, originally scheduled for June and July 2025, was rescheduled to avoid a clash with the inaugural Club World Cup in the United States from June 15 to July 13, 2025. Additionally, CAF sought to avoid conflicting with the UEFA Champions League, whose matchday six ends on December 11, 2025, and matchday seven starts on January 21, 2026.

The new dates, however, are likely to upset many Premier League clubs, as the Christmas-New Year period is already packed with matches. English media reports suggest that clubs may not release their African players, given they are only required to do so for one international tournament per year, with the next World Cup set for 2026. CAF could argue that the 2025 AFCON qualifies as the tournament for that year, despite most of it occurring in 2026.

Finding suitable dates for the 24-nation AFCON tournament, which Ivory Coast won last February, has become increasingly challenging. While a mid-year schedule worked for the 2019 edition in Egypt, avoiding clashes with the European club season, the subsequent editions in Cameroon and Ivory Coast had to be moved to January and February to avoid the rainy seasons.

The qualifying draw for the 2025 AFCON will take place in Johannesburg on July 4, with 48 teams divided into 12 groups. Morocco, as hosts, are guaranteed a spot in the 24-team finals but will participate in the qualifiers for match practice.

Unlike the four-yearly European Championship, Copa America, and Asian Cup, the AFCON is held biennially as it generates the bulk of CAF’s revenue. Motsepe revealed in a recent TV interview that CAF made an $80 million profit from the last AFCON hosted by Ivory Coast, a significant increase from the previous editions’ average profit of about $4 million.

The 2024 Women’s AFCON (WAFCON) has also been rescheduled and will now be held in Morocco from July 5-26 next year. Additionally, new dates are needed for the African Nations Championship (CHAN), originally set for Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda this year. The qualifying draw for CHAN has yet to take place, and CAF has not explained the delay.

Furthermore, there is no update from CAF on the second edition of the African Football League (AFL), initially named the African Super League. Planned as a 24-club mini-league and knockout competition, the AFL debuted last year with just eight teams in a three-round format. Implementing the original format would require clubs to play between 14 and 21 matches, presenting logistical challenges due to limited direct flights between African countries.

“You can turn the lights off on domestic football if this (AFL) goes ahead,” warned John Comitis, chairman of South African top-flight club Cape Town City.


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