May 22 – Saudi Arabia is in talks over a $200 million sponsorship deal for the African Super League. A potential agreement could boost the Kingdom’s chances to land the hosting rights for the World Cup in the future.
A week after the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) signed a landmark five-year memorandum of understanding to foster growth opportunities for African and Saudi football, The Guardian reports that the Arab Kingdom will prop up the African Super League which was due to launch this year.
The competition’s maiden edition however may be delayed until the 2024-25 season. Saudi Arabia’s financial support for the competition could be seen as a further extension of the Kingdom’s influence and ambitions in the global game as it mulls over a bid for the 2030 World Cup.
The Saudis would be up against a bid by the South American quartet Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay and Chile, who are seeking to convince the FIFA electorate that the World Cup should return to the region a century after Uruguay staged the first edition of the global finals, as well as the Spain-Portugal-Morocco triumvirate, a bid that ticks all the boxes in terms of logistics and green credentials and combines both the European and African powerful confederations. However, Saudi’s rapprochement of Africa may split an African block vote.
In 2018, FIFA president Gianni Infantino first proposed an African Super League and his ally Patrice Motsepe (pictured) has been dutifully inching toward the launch of such a competition. The Confederation of African Football (CAF) boss has however always been short on details as to how his organisation would finance the competition. He promised a prize pot of $100 million with the winner banking in excess of $10 million.
Motsepe has always maintained that CAF have held constructive talks with broadcasters across the continent and that it is just a matter of bringing in partners from the private sector, but at a time when CAF’s finances are more precarious than ever following the cancellation of its $1 billion marketing rights deal with Lagardere in 2019, the Saudi money would be more than welcome.
Last week, Motsepe said in a statement following the signing of the MoU with SAFF: “CAF is excited to work together and partner with the Saudi Arabian Football Federation to develop and grow football on our continent and globally.
“There are also specific areas for mutually beneficial partnerships that we are discussing and announcements will be made in due course.”
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