FIFA boss Infantino wants Africa Cup of Nations at end of year
FIFA President Gianni Infantino has suggested that the Africa Cup of Nations should be played between September and November as part of any revised international match schedule.
Football’s world governing body is proposing an overhaul of international football, including the World Cup being played every two years rather than four.
Traditionally, the Nations Cup was played in January and February but it took place in June and July when Egypt hosted in 2019.
Next month’s finals in Cameroon reverted to the beginning of the year due to concerns about the weather, a long-standing reason why the tournament has seldom been played in June-July.
“If we can streamline the calendar and make sure that an Africa Cup of Nations could be played as part of a longer international window in the autumn, then I think we would have already achieved something quite important,” Infantino said.
Follow-up communication with FIFA confirmed that ‘autumn’ was referring to any time between September and November in a calendar year.
However, FIFA is working on the idea of having at least two extended windows each year, so that confederations have the option of hosting their tournament at different times of the year because of weather conditions.
“[This would mean] less disruption for so many leagues who have players of African nationality. A few years ago, no one cared if the Africa Cup of Nations was played in January and February – more or less,” Infantino, 51, claimed.
“Today it is becoming an issue because in January and February many leagues in Europe, in particular but also in other parts of the world where African players are playing, are in the middle of their competition and they have to release these players.”
Club-versus-country rows have preceded the build-up to many Nations Cup in recent years, as a host of Europe-based coaches have hit out at the timing of the competition.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) moved the timing of the tournament in 2017 in order to avoid this issue, only to have to switch back for Cameroon 2021.
Following Monday’s FIFA meeting, Infantino also highlighted the fact that moving to a biennial World Cup would offer more chances for African nations to host the tournament in the future.
UEFA, Europe’s major leagues and South American football’s governing body CONMEBOL have opposed the plans while CAF has given its backing.