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To Africa Or Not To Africa

18 October 2011 Nyiko Nxumalo

Very seldom do my blogs take on subjects of a serious nature but this edition aims to address an issue that is very close to my heart and to the hearts of many Buccaneers out there – the African Champions League (herein after referred to as the ACL).

 

As a staunch supporter of the only team in Southern Africa to have tasted glory in the ACL, I always look forward to the kickoff of every season of this competition only to be bitterly disappointed by the poor standards displayed by the participating teams, especially those from the Republic of South Africa.

 

Many questions have often been raised by football experts within our borders about why South African teams perform so badly in this competition and I believe we need to look no further than the prize money on offer to find the answer. South African teams play 4 games on some of the most comfortable soccer fields in the Wafa Wafa MTN8 competition to bag a cool R8 million while the winner of the African Champions League plays over 12 games in some of the most appalling conditions to ONLY walk away with 1,2 US dollars. My maths was never that good but I can safely tell you that the aforementioned amount is just below 10 million Rands when converted to our local currency. As a result, teams campaigning in the PSL would rather channel their energies towards obtaining a top 8 finish than chasing champions league glory as the former comes with better financial rewards and less stress.

 

I’ve always been accused of being good at highlighting problems while offering no solutions so please allow me to change that. Here’s what my mind tells me would improve the standards of the ACL and make it more attractive. CAF must pass a resolution forcing all the 50 or so member states to make an annual contribution of R1 million (we all know the concerned federations can afford it) towards the ACL organising committee. R18million from this amount is to be used as the prize money for the eventual winners while the rest is to be distributed pro rata amongst the other participating teams in accordance with how far they go in the competition. The money made from television rights and sponsorships can be channelled towards preparing and upgrading the fields to be used by the participating teams.

 

Implementing the above would ensure that come the end of the season, we see Sundowns players rolling on the floor in agony after having missed out on the second position to Chiefs which would have enabled them to participate in this lucrative competition instead of what we see now, where qualification to the ACL is actually viewed as an unnecessary distraction.

N. Nxumalo