CAF shifts 2025 AFCON to make way for FIFA’s expanded 2025 Club World Cup

June 24 – The Confederation of African Football (CAF) have moved the dates of the next Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) from June-July 2025 to December 21 2025 to January 18 2026.

It is the eight consecutive time that CAF has moved the dates of its premier national team competition, this time because its dates clashed with the inaugural 32-team FIFA Club World Cup to be played in the USA June 15 to July 13 next year.

The decision was taken at a virtual executive committee meeting held by CAF at their headquarters in Cairo on Friday.

In announcing the new dates, CAF president Patrice Motsepe said: “I am confident that the CAF AFCON Morocco 2025 will be extremely successful and the best AFCON in the history of this competition.”

That confidence could be shattered though if European clubs refuse to release players, particularly clubs in the English Premier League who don’t take a winter break but instead run a full and intense league programme that can often prove to be season defining.

The pile up of fixtures has also seen CAF officials attempt to avoid a date clash UEFA’s Champions League. The Champions League ends it pre-Christmas schedule on December 11 begins again on January 21 2026. CAF has scheduled AFCON in the dates in between.

The dates clash once again shows how congested the international calendar has become, as well as re-emphasising Africa’s second-fiddle role to FIFA’s requirements. A subservience to the world governing body that has only increased under Motsepe’s presidency.

The importance of AFCON to CAF cannot be underestimated as it is the confederation’s biggest money spinner and pretty much the only monetisable pillar of its commercial programme. Motsepe said CAF made an $80 million (€75 million) profit from the last AFCON, hosted by the Ivory Coast (and won by the Ivory Coast) in January and February this year.

This was an increase from an average of £4 million per edition, he said in a TV interview.

Looking at the bigger international calendar picture, the decision to leave the summer window open for FIFA’s Club World Cup indicates that FIFA has no intention of bowing to pressure to suspend the expanded 2025 edition despite a legal challenge from world players’ union Fifpro and an expected further legal challenge from the World Leagues Association.

For CAF they now have an international match calendar in disarray and looking without a commercially solid and unmovable fixed point.

In other parts of the calendar the 2024 Women’s AFCON (WAFCON) has been postponed and will now be played in Morocco from July 5-26 next year, while new dates are needed for the African Nations Championship (CHAN), originally scheduled for Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda this year.

Add a lack of communication on a second edition of the African Football League (AFL), initially called the African Super League, and CAF’s relevance looks to be diminishing even further as a rights owner of major football events.

In Africa, FIFA’s continually touted mantra of taking football to the whole world looks in practice to be only reducing opportunity.

Contact the writer of this story at moc.l1721247444labto1721247444ofdlr1721247444owedi1721247444sni@n1721247444osloh1721247444cin.l1721247444uap1721247444