BY HENRY MHARA
WARRIORS stars who will make the trip to Cameroon for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals, were set for rich pickings after the Confederation of African Football (Caf) president Patrice Motsepe revealed that they were organising money that will be set aside for participating players.
Player bonuses have been a thorny issue at previous Afcon tournaments, with Zimbabwe threatening to abandon their 2019 final group match against Democratic Republic of Congo in Egypt over a bonus row with Zifa. Next year’s hosts of the tournament also delayed their trip to Egypt in 2019 for the tournament after staging a sit-in over bonus disagreements.
Two years earlier, DR Congo had also threatened to boycott their match against Morocco over reduced bonuses.
However, Motsepe, who ascended to the throne of African football last year, told delegates at the 2021 Afcon draw in Cameroon on Tuesday night that his organisation was planning to increase the tournament’s prize money as well as putting aside a fund towards player bonuses.
“We want to increase the prize money and we are in discussion with sponsors because we have to show the world that African football is as good and is among the best in the world,” Motsepe said.
Algeria got US$4,5 million for winning the last edition of the Afcon tournament, while the finalists Senegal were given US$2,5 million.
Semi-finalists are given US$2 million and quarter-finalists get US$1 million. Qualifying to the round of 16 guarantees a team US$670 000 while teams that finish as third best in the group stages earn themselves US$620 000.
“On top of the prize money, we want to put aside some money that will go to the players so that we don’t experience the problems that we have had in the past . . . where players are demotivated when they qualify because they don’t know how much they will make by way of bonuses.”
The Caf president entreated African governments and the private sector to invest in football in order to make the game more attractive.
“We have been meeting with many head of State in Africa and the ministries of sports. We are encouraging them to partner and support football. We have asked them to increase the budget for sport in their national budgets. In most African countries, the money that is allocated for football can and should be increased. In my discussions, many head of States have said they will contribute more and make more money available to develop football in their countries. When you invest in football, you invest in your people and in the future of Africa,” Motsepe said.
“We also encourage the private sector that it makes good business sense to sponsor and partner with football. We want to make African football self-sustaining and competitive.”
Motsepe thinks that with financial support, an African nation can win the World cup.
An African team is yet to lift the biggest soccer mundial.
“Part of our dream is to build towards having an African nation winning the Fifa World Cup. There are many countries in Africa that we have confidence can compete well and in the not too distant future an African nation will indeed win the Fifa World Cup,” he said.
The draw, which took place in Younde on Tuesday, saw the 24 participating teams being divided into six groups of four. The 2021 Afcon tournament is scheduled to run from January 9 to February 6, 2022.
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