CAN is broadcast all over the world and could reach a potential audience of 2 billion spectators - making it attractive to commercial sponsors.
In the "World Ranking" posted on the website of FIFA, international football's governing body, no fewer than 10 African countries rank among the world's top 50 national teams.
The top-placed African team is Nigeria, at number 19. Behind the “Green Eagles” nine other African countries appear in the top 50. Cameroon is in 25th place, Guinea in 33rd, Egypt in 35th, the Ivory Coast in 38th and Morocco in 39th.
The FIFA ranking is encouraging for the sport's African organizing body, the Confederation of African Football (CAF), and for continental football in general.
From Khartoum to Accra, bigger and better
The African Nations Cup (CAN) has gone a long way from the first contest held in Khartoum in 1957 - with just three teams: Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan - to this year's 16-way contest in Ghana.
This year's matches will be broadcast around the world. The last event, two years ago in Egypt, was available to 2 billion viewers around the world, according to Sportfive, the company that manages TV rights and marketing for the CAF.
In 2001, the CAF gave Sportfive the rights for the CAN tournaments in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008, and that of the Champions League of African Clubs, for a sum reported by Le Monde to be around 50 million dollars. That was up from just 300,000 dollars paid 15 years ago. Sportfive resold the rights to regional broadcasters: Eurosport for Europe, the ARTE Arab group for North Africa and the Middle East, and the South African mobile telephone operator MIT for sub-Saharan Africa.
As a result of this level of exposure, the African Nations Cup has seen its market value swell. At the Tunis event in 2004 the sponsorship revenue was estimated at 5 million dollars per annual event. The gains were said to be so significant that last October, Sportfive made its partnership with CAF a long-term one.
The company became CAF’s "exclusive agent for both marketing and media rights" from 2009 to 2016. The cost of the contract has not been made public.
In Ghana, the African Nations Cup will give a boost to African football in general. "This year's CAN in Ghana will have much more media attention than in previous years," predicts the Ivory Coast's Didier Drogba, a major star for English club Chelsea, in a recent interview with the magazine France Football. "It’s certain that more attention will be paid to our continent, and its players and competitions.”
In the age of globalization, African football is no exception to the rule: the best players follow the money. In the last decade, the best African players have signed with clubs outside the continent. Out of 368 players in Ghana, 211 regularly play for European teams.
Samuel Eto'o, the Cameroonian star striker for FC Barcelona, sees the proof in the interest shown. "It’s obvious to me that African football is more respected today than before. More and more Africans are playing for the big European teams…. Africa hasn’t just grown in terms of the game, but in terms of mentality too."
Date created : 2008-01-18