The Confederation of African Football (Caf) says it is intent on developing women’s football despite cancelling the 2020 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (AWCON).
“We are still discussing the format but most likely, albeit still to be defined, the first edition of the Women’s Champions League will be a final tournament in one host country. We are still having discussions today about how many teams and how to qualify the teams – we don’t know if we will have qualifiers or if we will take the best teams and qualify them directly for this first edition. But for sure, it will be a final tournament,” said Bah.
They are currently targeting ‘maybe eight teams, and to organize it as two groups of four’.
Africa’s ruling body is exploring the possibility of qualifiers – should they happen – on a regional basis, along the lines of the various zonal unions in a bid to save money on expensive travel costs.
The decision to scrap the Nations Cup was brought about by the announcement of a continental Women’s Champions League.
“For African teams, if there’s no qualifying games we don’t play. “We don’t do anything – and then, when there are qualifiers or an AWCON we go to camp. We have to prepare and be ready, but right now African teams are not ready,” said Oshoala.
“It has been a very complicated decision to make but at the end, the reasons are quite simple – obviously, it’s all related to Covid-19. We had the possibility to move this edition to next year but unfortunately it was impossible to find a slot by the end of 2021. The only slot available was in June/July, which means during the European Championships, Copa America or the Olympics.We considered that we would have had a very, very low audience at the AWCON and this is why we took this very complicated decision – but also to get more focus on the development of women’s football. The fact that not a single qualifying game had taken place, in contrast to the men’s tournament, was also a factor, ” Bah added.
“We know that this decision (to cancel AWCON) is complicated but we hope that we will see the results of our strategy in the next five years.”
Until 2016, Africa’s women’s continental champions received the same amount – $50,0000 – as Africa’s male Under-17 champions. They may receive greater prize money today, but the AWCON winners’ $200,000 is still $50,000 less than their male Under-20 counterparts.