FIFA has formalized the creation of the World Club Cup in 2021. But the dates envisaged coincide pretty much with those of the CAN.
In 2010, FIFA decided to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, without reflecting for a single second on the weather conditions prevailing in the Persian Gulf in June and July, when the competition is traditionally held. On October 24 in Shanghai, the authority formalized the creation of the new formula of the World Club Cup, expanded to twenty-four teams (against seven currently), and which will replace the Confederations Cup, dedicated to the national selections and which took place every four years. The new version of the World Club Cup will be held every four years, odd years. This means that from 2021, this tournament will be held the same year as the African Cup of Nations (CAN).
FIFA has not yet announced the dates of the 2021 edition, organized in China, but several sources say that it, which will last eighteen days, could be played between mid-June and mid-July ( from June 17 to July 4). However, since the Confederation of African Football (CAF) decided to expand the CAN to twenty-four selections, the tournament, which was usually played in winter, took place in Egypt under its new formula of June 21 to July 19th. This situation obviously raises many questions about CAN programming and challenges African football players.
This is the case of Sita Sangaré, president of the Burkina Faso Football Federation (FBF): "I'm a little worried, even if we have to wait to know the final dates of the Club World Cup. FIFA and CAF will have discussions about CAN programming. It seems obvious that the two competitions will not overlap. It seems conceivable that the CAN is shifted. That's part of the assumptions. A reflection shared by Constant Omari, President of the Congolese Football Federation (Fecofa), Vice President of CAF and a member of the FIFA Executive Committee: "There is no risk that both tournaments will compete at the same time. FIFA will make concrete proposals quickly. "
Upheaval of the calendar
The seven African members of the CAF Executive Committee – the Malagasy Ahmad Ahmad, the Egyptian Hany Abo Rida, the Burundian Lydia Nsekera, the Congolese Constant Omari, the Tunisian Tarek Bouchamaoui, the Guinean Almamy Kabele Camara and the Malawian Walter Nyamilandu – have voted in favor of this reform of the Club World Cup. For Frenchman Claude Le Roy, coach of Togo, the CAF will have to adapt. A situation he deplores: "I'm waiting to know what's next, but all of this is a little pathetic. CAF has to do what FIFA tells them, because the Club World Cup will generate a lot of revenue. And as it is the most important in the eyes of Gianni Infantino, the President of FIFA, it seems acquired, if the Club World Cup is played on the dates envisaged, it will be necessary to shift the CAN of a few weeks. "
It could therefore force African players to compete in both competitions, a prospect that worries Claude Le Roy: "Enchaining two major tournaments in summer, when we talk about the overload of the calendar, it seems pretty irresponsible. And the summer is the period when clubs prepare the season … Today, with the World Cup clubs new formula, Africa will face every four years to a problem of timing. The people who make these decisions have never seen a balloon within 150 meters. "
If the Club World Cup were to end on July 4, 2021, it would be necessary to allow a minimum of two to three weeks to pass, the time for the players involved in the two competitions to enjoy a few days off, and African teams to prepare for and play friendly matches. Thus, the CAN could not start between July 20 and 21 and would be over a month, while the European championships, where the majority of African internationals, will have resumed.
The hypothesis of a new upheaval in the calendar does not please the leader of a European club, who wished to remain anonymous: "Even if it will only happen every four years, the situation will be embarrassing. This means that players will miss not only preparation with the clubs, but also several days of championships and possibly European cup matches. " The tension between clubs and African federations, which had been reduced since the CAN was played in the summer, should soon resurface.