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WAFCON 2024: Does CAF’s Failure to Set a Date Reflect Unequal Treatment of Women’s Football?

WAFCON 2024: Does CAF’s Failure to Set a Date Reflect Unequal Treatment of Women’s Football?

WAFCON 2024: Does CAF’s Failure to Set a Date Reflect Unequal Treatment of Women’s Football?| Afrocritik

With less than seven months to the end of the year, the Confederation of African Football is yet to confirm a date for the Women’s Cup of Nations, leaving room for so many questions. 

By Tuka Letura 

Ahead of the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia, the President of the Confederation of African Football, Patrice Motsepe, highlighted the increase in prize money for both the CAF Women’s Champions League and the Women’s AFCON, pointing at the importance of fair compensation for female players to enable their football careers.

“We’ve increased the prize money for the club’s women’s champions league, but also for the Women’s AFCON. Our commitment is to continue increasing but it’s also important to pay the women very well because we want them to make a future out of football…”  Motsepe said in an interview with CAF media in July 2023.

It is, in fact, with some semblance of irony that almost a year since Motsepe’s comments, in a year that should host the 2024 Women’s African Cup of Nations (WAFCON), no date has been confirmed for the event. This brings CAF and Motsepe’s stance on fairness and balance between men’s and women’s football into question.“We were last year [2022] in Morocco and we had more than 60,000 spectators to come and watch women’s football. A lot of good work has been done. You can see the quality is improving and also what’s very important is you can see that some of the best players in Europe are from Africa,” Motsepe further claimed in his speech. 

The support promised by the President of CAF only stays at face value at the moment. As flattering as it would sound to a large crowd, it’s only as impressive if it is carried out, at least to the level of men’s football. 

Eventual winners, Côte d’Ivoire, hosted the men’s edition of the competition in January. An event most described as the most entertaining and one of the most organised editions of the tournament. History suggests that since this year’s edition of the women’s tournament doesn’t prelude to the Women’s  World Cup, it is thus not serving as a qualifier for it, and its neglect was bound to happen. There is a stark contrast between how both events are viewed, but this is not surprising, as the women’s tournament has never had a fixed period of the year for its scheduling. 

Mr Luxolo September, Head of Television and Broadcasting (Commercial) at CAF, gave an update while appearing on the South African cable television programme ‘Soccer Africa,’ as reported by Blueprint on the latest about the Women’s AFCON. In his remarks, Mr September affirmed that despite the turbulent football environment in 2024, the Women’s AFCON 2024 in Morocco will proceed as planned. He emphasised that while football schedules worldwide have been cramped, CAF is steadfast in its commitment to ensuring the tournament is held this year.

He also pointed out the clash between the originally earmarked January slot for WAFCON, which was eventually dominated by the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Ivory Coast, and that the tournament will not be held in the upcoming FIFA window in July/August as that coincides with the Paris Olympics. However, Mr September exuded optimism, revealing the behind-the-scenes efforts are on to salvage the situation, as he disclosed ongoing discussions between Motsepe and European club authorities to secure the release of African players for the WAFCON when a date is scheduled. Mr September’s statement leaves a little bit of hope that it is still possible to have the WAFCON in 2024. But for most, hope is enough, and there’s scepticism for others who have heard words used like this and nothing done afterwards. 

African players on the continent and across the globe are making great strides and achieving huge feats. Among the qualified national teams for the tournament, individual players from these nations are making huge achievements for their club sides. Nigeria’s Chiamaka Nnadozie of Paris FC in France was crowned Goalkeeper of the Season and part of the Team of the Season in the D1 Arkema, the top flight of French women’s football.

WAFCON 2024: Does CAF’s Failure to Set a Date Reflect Unequal Treatment of Women’s Football?| Afrocritik
Women’s African Cup of Nations Winners, Morocco 2022

In the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) it’s already shaping up to be a big season for Racheal Kundananji who became the most expensive player in the world at the start of the year, and almost the same for compatriot Barbra Banda who is currently second on the list. So many other players who are having a great year and would want to continue to do the same for their national teams are prevented from doing so because of the uncertainty that surrounds the competition. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 edition did not have a fixed date until its eventual cancellation. That was understandable given the circumstances. This time, it is not. National teams are also somewhat held hostage by the situation. In areas where they could have gotten sponsorships and partners ahead of a major tournament, that has been put on hold.  International friendlies have also been a card close to the chest, but as no one exactly knows when the competition will start, preparation plans for it are most likely still in hibernation. 

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This would never happen at the men’s AFCON. It hasn’t happened. Unfortunately,  it is happening in the biggest women’s sporting event on the continent.  As former Nigerian International Desire Oparanozie pointed out in a post on X, attention given by the Nigerian Sports Ministry should extend to the women’s side. 

It’s a replica of the same at CAF. Women’s football is pushed further down the pedestal and not given nearly enough attention. CAF cannot perform lip service to sooth the ears of fans and players, and then fold their hands and watch women’s football fall. It begins to bear the look of sexism if it goes on for longer, and that isn’t a look CAF will want to carry on. It is indeed imperative that CAF works even harder to get their house together, especially towards women’s football on the continent. A resolution needs to be reached soon enough for CAF’s position on women’s football to hold water. 

Tuka Letura is an experienced sports writer with over five years of experience in the craft. He uses data and statistics to provide analysis and commentary. From regional to worldwide competitions, he has covered a wide range of sports-related events and topics. He is devoted to sharing his enthusiasm for sports with his audience and engaging them with interesting anecdotes and viewpoints.

 

 

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