The business side of AFCON

Bafana Bafana training in Stellenbosch. Photographer: Ayanda Ndamane, Independent Newspapers.

Bafana Bafana training in Stellenbosch. Photographer: Ayanda Ndamane, Independent Newspapers.

Published Jan 14, 2024


The biggest football tournament on the continent kicked off on Saturday, the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), in Côte d’Ivoire, and all the participating teams will be hoping to hold up the trophy by the time the competition ends on February 11.

The recent commercial aspects of the tournament have been met with expectations of further developing the game of football in Africa, according to a report released by Africa Sports Unified (ASU) which is a boutique strategic consultancy, dedicated to connecting and developing a sustainable Pan-African sports ecosystem.

ASU released an in-depth report on the Africa Cup of Nations 2023, offering a comprehensive analysis of the tournament's impact on sports, economics, and culture in Africa.

The report delves into the dynamics of Africa’s biggest sporting event, showcasing how the tournament is more than just a series of matches, but a catalyst for social and economic change.

“AFCON 2023 is not just a celebration of African football; it's a testament to the continent's growing stature in the global sports industry. Our report offers a one stop destination pertaining to all the key information regarding the tournament from trusted sources. Our analysis offers valuable insights for governments, sports federations, business sectors and fans, showcasing the multifaceted impact of this prestigious event,” said Gabriel Ajala, the founder of ASU.

A variety of international television partners will be broadcasting the matches, ensuring that the tournament is shown across Europe, Middle East and The Americas, allowing fans to watch fan favourites stars such as Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Victor Osimhen and Mohammed Kudus.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) struck new partnerships with New World TV, IMG and PUMA in recent times.

In January 2024 CAF announced that there will be a 40% increase in prize money for the winners of AFCON 2023.

Ahead of the 2021 edition, CAF also announced an increase which saw the winner of the tournament receive $5 million (R93m), the runners-up $2.75m, semi-finalists $2.2m and quarter-finalists $1.175m.

Image: ASU report.

The 2021 edition saw the prize pot increase by $1.85m.

The 2023 edition sees the total prize pot increased further by $3.675m, a percentage increase of 98.65%. This presents a consecutive increase in prize money for AFCON.

Commercial interest

In 2023 alone, CAF announced a roster of 12 new partners.

They have a tiered partnership category with partners announced across all levels, including PUMA, VISA and Orange as Official Global Partners of CAF.

Of the incumbent partners to CAF, TotalEnergies, the French Energy and Oil company, are the official Title Sponsor for CAF in an 8 year deal signed in 2016 for a reported fee of $250m.

1XBet, the Russian betting company, have been a partner since 2019 in a reported 10 year agreement worth $65.4m.

A notable mention needs to be made of the relationship with IMG.

Though not an official partner, IMG acquired the rights to sell media (in 85+ countries outside of Africa and the Middle East) and sponsorship on behalf of CAF.

“CAF have positioned themselves to maximise the commercial opportunities of a global tournament such as The African Cup of Nations for the present and future,” the ASU report further stated.

Brand awareness

Of the 24 teams competing at AFCON 2023, there are 18 apparel brands.

Two more compared to the 2021 edition (16), four more compared to the 2019 edition (14) and seven more compared to the 2017 and 2015 edition (11).

Similarly to the 2021 edition, Puma and Umbro make up a third of the teams competing at the tournament with Puma representing 6 teams and Umbro 2.

Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ghana, Senegal, Morocco and Guinea are the countries supplied by Puma.

Whereas, DR Congo and Namibia are supplied by the British brand, Umbro.

No other brand outside of Puma and Umbro represents more than 1 country, including some of the major brands such as Adidas (Algeria), Nike (Nigeria) & Kappa (Tunisia).

There are also smaller and lesser known brands, who are suppliers for some countries such as Tovio (a brand from Burkina Faso), Tempo and AB Sport.

Le Coq Sportif, a French sportswear and sports equipment manufacturing company, is South Africa’s kit sponsor.