Three out of four African football fans want the Africa Cup of African Nations (Afcon) to continue taking place every two years, while two out of three want it to be in June rather than January, an RFI opinion poll has found. About 9,000 people gave us their views in the run-up to an African Football Confederation (CAF) meeting to discuss the tournament’s future on 18-19 July,
No to an Africa Cup of Nations every four years, instead of two, yes to holding it in June-July, rather than January-February and as for increasing the number of teams, why not, as long as all the regions of the continent take turns in hosting the competition.
These are the findings of an RFI poll in French, English, Hausa, Swahili and Portuguese.
Some 9,000 people took part, although, unfortunately, we were unable to add the thousands of other responses on social media.
Surprise vote in favour of Afcon in June
Whether it was on our website, Facebook or Twitter, however, the result was clear.
The vast majority of participants (74.8 percent) want the Africa Cup of African Nations to be very two years.
“Afcon is Africa’s shop window, the only major competition watched in Africa and the world,” comments one. “Playing it every four years would mean killing football on the continent and the effervescence it gives rise to.”
But there was a surprise when it came to the period in which the tournament should take place. Neatly two out of three (60.6 percent) would prefer it to be in June-July. The CAF has for some years been in favour of a final phase in January-February.
“It’s the rainy season in most African countries inn June and July,” says a participant. “So it is less hot, which allows the players to get stuck in and give the most for their team.”
More teams, but how many?
Opinion is much more divided on the question of how many teams should take part. While the option of keeping 16 teams wins the most votes (40.9 percent), a majority of fans would like to see more in the final phase, either 24 (34.6 percent), or 20 (20.6 percent). A tiny minority (0.6 percent) even wants 32.
The result on choice of host nations is more decisive – it or they should be in a different region each time, according to 73 percent of voters.
Ball now in CAF’s court
CAF, which meets on 18-19 July in Morocco, is obviously aware of these results. The symposium, summoned by CAF president Ahmad Ahmad, should “write a historic page in the transformation of African football”.
“The present team at the head of the African Football Confederation must not lead us to believe that it is at the service of Fifa,” a participant warns. “Africans certainly did need change at the head of this organisation but not so as to destroy past achievements.”
Should Afcon take place every four years?
No, every two years is fine: 74.8%
Don’t know: 1.2%
Should Afcon be in June-July?
No, January-February is fine: 36.4%
Don’t know: 3.0%
What is the ideal number of teams in the Afcon tournament?
16, as now: 40.9%
Don’t know: 1.6%
Should each Afcon tournament mandatorily take place in a different region of Africa?
Don’t know: 3.9%
Poll taken on RFI websites 23 June-17 July