The Confederation of African Football is moving its biennial Africa Cup of Nations from January to June-July, the CAF announced Thursday after meetings in Morocco.
By moving to a summertime tournament, AFCON will compete against the Gold Cup, Tour de France and, every other edition, Copa America as opposed to playing at the height of European soccer. CAF also hopes to draw more viewers (read: more money) by increasing the number of teams competing from 16 to 24, taking a cue from UEFA.
Both of these moves make sense to some degree. European clubs dread losing African players every other January to the tournament. Soccer fans outside of Africa are more likely to pay attention to AFCON when there’s nothing else to watch but baseball and cycling.
There were two moves mooted that were, fortunately, not made. CAF was considering adding non-African nations into the African Cup of Nations (CONCACAF and CONMEBOL have done this). There had been talk of making the tournament quadrennial instead of biennial, but CAF opted for more money.
While CAF is probably moving its confederation in the right direction, there’s one issue its moves bring up: weather.
Turns out, Africa can get hot, especially in the summer (although, yes, June-July is winter for large parts of Africa).
Cameroon will be hosting the 2019 tournament. The capital city, Yaoundé, which has the country’s best stadium, is both warm and wet in the summer.
If they switch to Morocco, though: average high temp for Marrakesh in June 32 degrees, average rainfall 0.1inches.— Jonathan Wilson (@jonawils) July 20, 2017
But overall, it’s hard to complain about AFCON moving to June-July. Like sunshine and piña coladas, everyone can use more football in the summer. Well, everyone but Jozy Altidore's girlfriend.