A new 24-club super league that aims to revolutionize African soccer and become its richest competition has been launched by Confederation of African Football president Patrice Motsepe, even as his organization reported a loss of nearly $50 million last year.
Motsepe said at the start of CAF's general assembly in Arusha, Tanzania, on Wednesday that the new league would offer prize money of $100 million — over five times more than Africa's current Champions League — and that each club in the inaugural season of the cross-continent competition would receive $2.5 million at the start to help fund its preparations and participation.
The competition is scheduled to begin in 2023 and has the backing of FIFA, unlike Europe's doomed Super League club project last year.
The official launch was held Wednesday afternoon.
Motsepe offered no concrete details of where the money to fund Africa's new league would come from with CAF in financial difficulties. He said last month that CAF had been “inundated with investors and sponsors” for the league but is yet to announce a major commercial deal.
Also, CAF figures released Wednesday showed that it had made a $44.6 million net loss in 2020-21 and some recent media reports have even claimed that the African soccer body is effectively bankrupt just over a year into the South African mining billionaire’s presidency.
“We believe we can change the face of African football,” Motsepe said, repeating there was huge interest from sponsors and commercial partners to be connected with the new African league.
CAF's general assembly meeting was also attended by FIFA president Gianni Infantino, who Motsepe referred to as “an African brother based in Europe.” Motsepe said all 54 of CAF's member countries would vote for Infantino in next year's FIFA presidential election in Rwanda.
That comment was likely to again provoke criticism that CAF under Motsepe is too close to Infantino, who used his influence as head of world soccer to ensure Motsepe was elected unopposed as CAF president in March 2021 despite the South African having no previous experience in international soccer administration.
CAF is soccer's second-largest confederation after UEFA and provides a big bloc of votes for the FIFA leadership contest. For many, Infantino has followed a similar tactic in Africa to predecessor Sepp Blatter, whose charm offensive in Africa helped keep him in power for nearly 20 years.
Motsepe last month responded to criticism that he was a “puppet” for Infantino, something that has shadowed him ever since he was elected with Infantino's help.
“There are things we agree upon and things we don’t,” Motsepe said at the women's African Cup in Morocco. “I focus on commercial and making African football money and this Infantino thing is an old story for me.”
At Wednesday's general assembly meeting, Infantino was presented with a large framed picture of Mount Kilimanjaro by Tanzanian Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa while Motsepe applauded the FIFA president vigorously and cajoled delegates at the meeting to join in the applause.