19, July 2017
The format and timing of the Africa Cup of Nations is up for discussion as a two-day symposium on the future of the continental game has got under way in the Moroccan capital, Rabat.
“That is the first thing to talk about – we can’t get away from it,” said Confederation of African Football (Caf) president Ahmad in his opening address. The Nations Cup’s timing in January and February has long been a source of conflict for clubs in Europe, where many Africans play.
European clubs have long been angered by losing players during a crucial stage of the season to the Nations Cup, which sparks a club v country row every two years. Compounding the clubs’ concerns is the fact that their players often come back fatigued from Africa’s flagship sporting event.
Ahead of this year’s Nations Cup in Gabon, an unprecedented number of players turned down call-ups to stay with their clubs. This included seven Cameroonians who refused to turn out for the team that eventually won the title.
The finals could also be boosted from 16 teams to 24 – while a less likely switch is for the tournament to take place every four, rather than two, years.