Friday, April 5, 2013

How CAF got more out of AFCON than FIFA out of 2010 WC

An uneducated opinion reasonably thinks the Fifa World Cup makes more than a Confederation championship. That stems from the logic that big is more. CAF made more cash than Fifa in their 2013 AFCON held in South Africa compared to the 2010 Fifa World Cup at the same venue.

This has nothing to do with all my assertion that African football speaks French, though that is part of it. The Confederation of African Football was dying to host their tournament in South Africa after the successful Fifa World Cup in history, but the opportunity was ever present as long as the intended hosts, Libya, were not French speakers. The rebels that killed Qaddafi presented the CAF's case on a silver platter.

For starters, let me educate you. CAF is not part of Fifa. They are independent. National associations look at the domestic game and guard all matters jealously, and like South African Football Association, SAFA, affiliate to a federation that is the custodian of the global game, FIFA.

The confederations do not represent the global game, but continental interests. Theirs is to organise tournaments while adhering to FIFA rules and regulations. They can design their qualification rules and design their own styles of governance and operative agendas.

To many, they are a step between national associations and FIFA and how wrong. They are just another body that associations choose to belong to. You may be wondering what this has to do with anything.

The 2013 AFCON hosts did not benefit much from their troubles. CAF pocketed hundreds of millions in American currency. The common view would be that the FIFA World Cup matches have a global audience, which is very true and that is why FIFA make an effort to afford the universe the spectacle of the games.

The citizens of the world will always have an interest in how the world's top 10 footballing nations play and there is always a good number like myself always pushing the underdog. That makes the whole World Cup very attractive and interesting.

When it comes to AFCON, I guess other tournaments like CONCACAF, UEFA and AFC, the interests are quite localised. There is not much global interest. This specialised interest makes for the difference these two bodies go about their business and marketing strategies.

As for AFCON, the CAF members states will do anything to show on television other African teams and players showcase their ability to broadcast and measure their size against other nations. Nations like Cape Verde, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Nigeria will do anything to get rights to televise the matches, of course for different reasons. Smaller nations were making history and took the opportunity to be known. Bigger and more accomplished nations are basically football-crazy.

Taking advantage of these dissimilar appetites to show the African country that hosted the first ever World Cup, CAF charged around $750 000 for these rights. Many nations broke the bank to purchase these. FIFA had charged just around $100 000. These figures may be in Euro and not dollars.

CAF enjoys a rose relationship with the Arab rich north where it has headquarters in Egypt. It is not to say the petro-dollar has anything to do with the many championships Arabs and French speakers have. It is purely coincidence, but really?

Kenya could not host AFCON in 1996 according to CAF standards and it was South Africa who chipped in and did that superbly, winning the championship. That left a bitter taste that the trophy crossed the equator. Zimbabwe were pencilled to host the 1998 version but the fears of the trophy staying put saw the AFCON moved to Tunisia.

There has not been much love between the north and south as evidenced by how Danny Jordaan made history by the way he handled the 2010 World Cup bid and the hosting of the world's greatest sporting spectacle.

Bringing AFCON to South Africa was just a good business idea they could not resist and the hosts enjoyed being a condom the entire month.