Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and FIFA President Gianni Infantino were arguably the two most prominent figures at the Benjamin Mkapa Stadium in Dar es Salaam as the African Football League kicked off on Friday, October 20, 2023.
The match certainly lived up to its reputation, with hosts Simba playing to an exciting 2-2 draw against Egyptian giants Al Ahly in the first leg of the quarterfinal tie. The second leg is scheduled for Tuesday, October 24, 2023.
The stadium was packed to capacity, and the atmosphere was electric as Tanzanian fans passionately supported their team in this historic match. The noise level was so high that Infantino’s address was nearly inaudible.
The African Football League is an annual continental club football competition organized by Africa’s football governing body, CAF, and it commenced in October 2023.
This initiative was initially introduced by Infantino on November 28, 2019. Originally named the Africa Super League, it was launched on August 10, 2022, with plans to feature twenty-four elite African clubs in a promotion and relegation system. However, it was later reduced to eight teams for its inaugural season.
The AFL is designed to coexist with CAF’s other primary club competitions, the CAF Champions League and the CAF Confederation Cup, rather than serving as a replacement.
The primary goal of this tournament is to generate substantial financial returns, which will be used for stadium development, infrastructure improvement, and the promotion of African football.
Infantino stated that the league is expected to generate $100 million in revenue, positioning it among the top ten football leagues worldwide.
He also disclosed his intention to launch an appeal to raise $1 billion, aiming to provide every African country with a FIFA-compliant football stadium.