Tuesday, 8 January 2013

The Myth Behind The African Cup Of Nations (Part Three)

Staging The African Cup Of Nations In July: Everyone’s A Winner

Staging the African Cup Of Nations in July could possibly
unlock the potential for increased overseas TV revenues.
In part one of The Myth Behind The African Cup Of Nations I investigated the argument that ‘the African Cup of Nations can’t be staged in July because it would be too hot’ and discovered that of the previous four African Cup Of Nations, all four of them would have experienced cooler temperatures if they had been staged in July instead of January.

In part two I covered the likely reasons why The African Cup Of Nations is staged in January when for each of the last four tournaments it would have been cooler to stage it in July.

Now finally I’m going to round things off by suggesting a few additional reasons why I think it would be beneficial to stage the tournament in July...

1) Increased revenues from overseas TV rights.
At the moment, during summers when there’s a European Cup or a World Cup, European football fans have something to get us through the summer and give us our fix of football that we need until the new domestic season starts.  But for two seasons out of every four, European football fans basically have to endure a football famine throughout the summer.  From a marketing point of view, there’s a potentially huge untapped TV market going to waste.

This is a situation which the Confederation Of African Football (CAF) are ideally placed to take advantage of.  While the African Cup Of Nations is held in January, to many European football fans it currently remains little more than an annoyance in the middle of every other season which means that we lose some of our best players for a few weeks.  However, if the tournament was switched to July, interest from European football fans could potentially increase.

By no means am I saying a July setting would send viewing figures through the roof, but if I was a betting man (which as it happens I am) then my money would definitely be on a July tournament having the biggest potential for maximising overseas TV revenues.  As a Newcastle fan, an African Cup Of Nations in July would have far greater appeal and would have me getting behind the likes of Shola* and Tiote, and therefore cheering on Nigeria and The Ivory Coast.  As things stand, however, I’m just hoping they get knocked out as soon as possible so that we get our players back for the important business of the Premier League.

* Who I suspect would have answered his phone if the tournament had been staged in July.

To sum it up in marketing speak, if the African Cup Of Nations was held in July then there wouldn’t be a conflict of interests and therefore European fans would be more likely to put more of an emotional investment into watching the African Cup Of Nations.  So in my opinion the marketing people at CAF need to point out to their bosses that the current scheduling situation is preventing them from maximising their potential for overseas TV revenues.

The 'too hot in July' argument.  As water-tight as a sieve.
Or Sunderland's defence, to give another example.
2) Consideration for African players.
One point which CAF don’t seem to have taken into consideration is that it’s unfair on top African players to put them in the position of having to choose between club and country.

Why should an African player have to miss out on playing for his country?  Why should an African player have to miss out on playing for his club?  Why shouldn’t he be able to play for both?  European players don’t have to choose between club or country* so why should African players be faced with a scheduling conflict?

* Unless you play for Man United in which case according to former player Neil Webb, Alex Ferguson forced him and other players to miss international matches, in Neil Webb's case by claiming he was injured when he was actually totally fit.  Ryan Giggs also went through a spell of missing seven consecutive friendlies for Wales and yet on each occasion he amazingly made a full recovery in time to play in Man United’s next game.

3) Potential harm to African players’ careers.
By staging the African Cup Of Nations in January, CAF are potentially hurting the careers of up and coming African footballers.  Players like Drogba and Demba Ba are always going to be in demand, but for other African players the prospect of them missing a chunk of the season every other year can only be seen as a negative in the eyes of managers of top European clubs who might be considering signing them.

4) Treating players like commodities rather than people.
When Danny Shittu wrote to the Nigerian Football Federation saying he didn’t want to play in the 2013 African Cup Of Nations, the Nigerian Football Federation responded by refusing his request and reminding him that under FIFA’s rules he had no choice and he therefore had to play because he didn’t get a say in the matter.

In this day and age it seems ridiculous to me that international players don’t get a choice over decisions which could affect their careers.  If their country wants them to play in an international match, be it an important tournament or a meaningless friendly, then unless they officially retire from internationals in writing, the player doesn’t get a say in the matter.  I suspect that FIFA are probably on dodgy legal ground with this rule and if a player was ever to challenge it then FIFA could possibly be leaving themselves open to legal embarrassment, but anyway, as things currently stand, players don’t get to decide.

Fortunately for Danny Shittu his international coach, Stephen Keshi, was understanding on the matter and omitted him from his squad, but it still can’t be right that an international federation can force a player to play for his country against his wishes. 

Berghaus High Trails IA Gtx Jacket now only £157 in our sale - Gear Zone5) It’s cooler in July!
I thought I would round things off by getting back to my original point.  Of the last four African Cup Of Nations, all four of them would have been experienced cooler temperatures if they had been staged in July.

Finally, I want to repeat the point I made in part one of The Myth Behind The African Cup Of Nations by clarifying that I’m not saying that the African Cup Of Nations doesn’t matter.  As previously stated, back in 1996 and 1997 I was lucky enough to spend several months in East and Central Africa and the amazing atmosphere I witnessed in Lusaka (the capital of Zambia) while a World Cup qualifying match was being played is something which I’ll never forget.

So just to make things absolutely clear, football in Africa is important.  Football in Africa is a big deal.  The point of this post isn’t to say that the African Cup Of Nations doesn’t matter because clearly it does.  I’m simply pointing out that the ‘too hot in July’ argument is untrue and that in my opinion there would be benefits for everyone by staging the African Cup Of Nations in July rather than January.

Somehow though, I suspect that nothing will ever change and that CAF will continue to miss out on a potentially lucrative summer TV market, top African players will continue to be put in the unnecessary position of having to choose between club or country, and the African Cup Of Nations will continue to be held in January even when the temperatures of the host nation would be cooler in July.

You can find parts one and two of The Myth Behind The African Cup Of Nations at the following links:

Follow NUFC Tips on twitter:

No comments:

Post a Comment