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Motsepe steers clear of Infantino, insists AFCON will be played every two years

Motsepe has disagreed with Infantino over the timing of the AFCON     

The new President of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Patrice Motsepe has moved to prove that he is not a Gianni Infantino poodle by insisting the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) will continue to be played every two years.

The billionaire businessman assured teeming football fans over the frequency of Africa's flagship football competition in the wake of a call by the FIFA President for a switch.

Infantino called for the Africa Cup of Nations to be held only every four years during an African football conference in Morocco last year, claiming that it would serve the continent better.

But the call of the Swiss national, who is the leader of the world's football governing body, sparked a big debate across the continent as many favoured sticking to the two-year AFCON frequency.

With FIFA brokering the agreement that reached a consensus among the four presidential candidates to bring Motsepe to power during Friday's election in Morocco, it was thought the billionaire would be controlled by Infantino.

But Motsepe sharply disagreed with the FIFA President over the frequency of the AFCON insisting with CAF's revenues plummeting, the continent desperately needs to maintain the frequency to maximise its commercial potential.

"The AFCON will take place every two years, African football needs it," said President Motsepe during a press conference in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

“This is one area where there were different views [at Caf’s assembly]. And I’ve no doubt that where we are now‚ it has to be every two years — there’s no doubt about that,” Motsepe added.

The move by the new CAF leader has assured football fans on the continent that Motsepe will be fighting for the interests of African football when he assumes his role as a FIFA Vice President - an automatic position for a confederation head.

Infantino sparked a major debate in Africa last year at a Caf development seminar in Morocco when he called for the AFCON to be held every four years instead of two.

The FIFA president argued that holding the tournament every four years will provide massive commercial and infrastructure benefit just like the other continental competitions.

"I propose to organise the Africa Cup of Nations every four years rather than two years," the Fifa President said.

"The CAN [Africa Cup of Nations] generates twenty times less than the Euros. Having a CAN every two years, is that good at the commercial level? Has this developed the infrastructure? Think about spending it every four years."

But with the new CAF president Motsepe taking a firm decision on the frequency of the AFCON, the debate on the matter looks to have been settled.

The timing and the frequency of the tournament has been a big debating issue among coaches of European clubs who have been reluctant in releasing their African players to play in the tournament.

Some clubs in Europe have called for the tournament to be moved to the summer because its timing in mid-season disrupts their plans as their African stars leave to play for their respective countries.

The January and February timing of the AFCON had previously led to tug of wars between European clubs and African national teams but the decision to move the tournament to June and July two years ago satisfied the concerns of the clubs.

But with the 2021 edition set to revert to a January-February next year because of the torrential mid-year rain in the host nation Cameroon, the debate will be reignited.

Motsepe was elected unopposed as CAF's eighth president at the football body’s general assembly in Rabat on Friday.



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