As you may have seen, AFCON 2023 has been electric! None of the favorites made it past the round of 16. Teams that topped their group also are eliminated. From some of the best goals I have seen on a football pitch, to last minute drama. AFCON 2023 has provided us with football in the purest form and entertainment that will be etched into football history.
Although for a tournament that has provided so much entertainment value and underdog triumphing spirit, the grievances are there and clear to see. AFCON 2023 has had no clear viewing schedule, I have watched many games and I am always in a frenzy clicking through different SkySports channels to find where we can watch the game. I believe that the cause of this starts really high at the top, if you watch Premier League football regularly, some managers are not fond of the tournament, it’s seen as a distraction or something that is just a passing moment. This has had a ripple effect on how commercial this tournament has been viewed by brands around the world. I was on X reading posts that not one visible activation has been done for AFCON, not a watch party, not a kit launch, nothing.
This had me thinking, what narrative around the tournament has to change? I am a proud Congolese man, I love my country and surprisingly we are doing better than I expected us to do in this tournament. Although initially I did not have great hope, my mind was drastically changed in the first group game. Leading me to think, do we subconsciously all share this universal attitude of, maybe AFCON just will not be worth the viewership hence the lacklustre build up towards the tournament?
One incident that totally upset and rubbed me the wrong way, last night Ivory Coast vs Mali absolutely monster fixture. Ivory Coast are the hosts of the tournament, Sky Sports began their coverage in the 16th minute of the game, by then we had missed a chunk of action and Mali had been awarded a penalty and we as fans of the tournament were unaware of how this occurred. This might feel like a minor occurrence to a casual viewer, but imagine all the Malians and Ivorians around watching, having to wait 16 minutes to catch coverage of a game that means everything to their nation? This is the subconscious attitude I am speaking about above, is AFCON considered a tick box activity? No real pre game or post game activity? AFCON 2023 deserves its respect, and I hope moving forward we change our thought processes leading up to the tournament and treat it equally.