Senior Sports Reporter
HARARE giants Dynamos and CAPS United say they are working hard to position themselves to be considered for the inaugural edition of the lucrative CAF Super League which is set to be launched next month.
The giants, who were part of CAF consultative meetings held in Cameroon on the eve of the 2021 AFCON finals, are looking to be part of the elite clubs from the continent to kick off the proposed US$200 million tournament.
While the format of the Super League is yet to be disclosed and how participants will be selected, CAF revealed that participating sides will need to meet conditions that include compliance with the Club Licensing system.
The competition is coming close to reality after CAF president Patrice Motsepe revealed this on Sunday following an Executive Committee meeting in Morocco where a number of issues were discussed.
DeMbare chairman Isaiah Mupfurutsa, who attended the consultative meeting in Cameroon back in February, along with CAPS United’s Farai Jere, yesterday said the Glamour Boys are eager to be part of the jamboree and have been working to meet some of the requirements, which include having functioning structures such as an academy and a women’s football team.
CAF, however, are yet to come up with the qualifying criteria.
“The meeting we held in Cameroon was meant to get input from the right people, that is why they picked the top clubs. Dynamos and CAPS United were invited to that meeting but it does not mean that they automatically qualify for the tournament. We are yet to get the nitty-gritties of the qualification format. Maybe it will be made clearer at the launch.
“But it was raised that clubs have to meet certain criteria to be part of it. Among other things, participating teams need to be financially stable; they need to have vibrant development programmes, a women’s football team, their own ground and, above all, achieve the CAF Club Licensing.
“So I don’t know how CAF are going to do it for the inaugural competition but I think on our part we have been making progress. We now have structures running the youth development programme.
“We have appointed a development committee which oversees progress of all the teams from the Under-10s to the Dynamos development side that plays in Division 2. Every week our youth teams are involved in action.
“By next year we should have a women’s football team. We are serious about development and it’s only an issue of resources that sometimes hold us back.
“But through our deal with Sakunda, we hope to have Rufaro renovated to meet CAF standards and we will be using it as our home ground under lease.
“So in terms of having our own infrastructure, I think we will be covered once the renovations are complete. Why we want Rufaro under lease is because CAF are insisting on these things.
“But suppose it is developed to meet the CAF standards, it will still be open to accommodate other clubs and national teams,” said Mupfurutsa.
The idea of a Super League was mooted by FIFA president Gianni Infantino when he visited the Democratic Republic of Congo for the 80th anniversary celebrations for Lubumbashi-based giants TP Mazembe in November 2019.
The Super League is seen as a potential cash cow for CAF especially with the pull of the continent’s top clubs such as Egyptian giants Al Ahly and Zamalek, Morocco’s Wydad and Raja Casablanca, Esperance and Etoil du Sahel of Tunisia, TP Mazembe, Mamelodi Sundowns, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.
“This tournament is very good for African football. It shows we are making progress as a continent because if you see the figures being thrown around, then you will realise it’s not a small thing.
“It is prestigious in that it has rich pickings for the participants and secondly it gives an opportunity to compete with the top teams and that exposure is critical in development. Everyone would want to be part of that,” said Mupfurutsa.
Zimbabwe are currently under FIFA suspension but the sanctions could have gone by the time the inaugural edition of the annual Super League kicks off. CAF said the tournament is expected to take off in August 2023 and will have up to $100 million in prize money.
CAPS United president Jere said the Green Machine are looking forward to being part of the competition.
“When we attended that meeting in Cameroon to discuss the idea of the Super League many people thought that it was just a talk show.
“But the CAF president has proven that he is a man of action. The Super League is going to be a big thing on the continent and it will definitely turn around the face of football.
“We know all the requirements by CAF and we have the templates but it all boils down to the issue of resources.
“It’s a challenge to us but we are happy with the prospects and we look forward to being part of it. Right now we are seized with improving our team. We need efficiency and results, more than anything else.
“It’s unfortunate our season hasn’t unfolded the way we had envisaged because we had a rough time during the pre-season. In football your season is usually defined by the way you conduct the pre-season.
“So we have started preparing for next season and if it happens that we are part of the inaugural edition, then we might need a strong team. So it’s also a challenge to our players,” said Jere.
CAF have rough estimates that the Super League could generate in excess of $200 million in sponsorship, with half of it channelled to the tournament while the rest goes towards infrastructural development and promotion of African football.
The organisation’s president Motsepe on Sunday confirmed the African Super League will kick off in August 2023, with the launch set for Tanzania next month.
Details, including the official name, will be unveiled at the launch event.
“The competition will breathe new life into African club competition. Winners and participants of the inaugural African Super League will receive significant prize monies and the proceeds from the tournament will include substantial solidarity payments to all 54 CAF Member Associations.
During last year’s Extraordinary General Assembly in Egypt, the 54 Member Associations unanimously voted to go-ahead with the competition and gave a mandate to the president and the Executive Committee to lead the implementation of the competition,” said the CAF statement.
Speaking to the CAF media, Motsepe said: “The decision has now been taken to implement the CAF Super League. It will start in August 2023 and we will launch it during CAF’s 44th Ordinary Assembly in Tanzania on August 10.
“We have been inundated with investors and sponsors, who are anxious to partner with us on the CAF Super League. It has huge potential to significantly uplift African football and to make it even more powerful.
“We will be engaging with stakeholders over the next few weeks to discuss the mechanics of the tournament and will release further details shortly.
“A significant amount of the money from the CAF Super League will be invested back into African football and part of the process involves giving $1 million every year to every one of CAF’s 54 Member Associations as a contribution to football and youth development.
“We also want to look to increase the prize money for the men’s and women’s CAF Champions Leagues,” said Motsepe.