Saudi Arabia is in talks with the Confederation of African Football over a $200m (£160m) deal to sponsor the new African Super League, in an agreement that could help to secure the continent’s support for any future World Cup bid, the Guardian understands.
Caf had been due to launch the 24-team tournament that has been heavily supported by the Fifa president, Gianni Infantino, in August as part of plans to raise the global profile of African clubs and generate increased revenue. The Super League, first mooted by Infantino in 2018 and announced by Caf’s president, Patrice Motsepe, in October, is planned to have prize fund of $100m that includes $11.6m for the winner – almost $8m more than currently on offer for the winners of the African Champions League – and a solidarity fund bringing each of the 54 Caf member associations $1m a year towards football development.
However, it is understood its start will be delayed until the 2024-25 season when the sponsorship deal with Saudi Arabia is expected to begin and that a slimmed-down version featuring only eight teams will run from 17 October to 30 November next season. Talks with Saudi Arabia are believed to have been taking place for some time and last week Caf announced it had signed a five-year cooperation and development agreement with the Saudi Arabian Football Federation – a move it said would “foster growth opportunities for African and Saudi Arabian football”.
They have signed a memorandum of understanding that will focus on initiatives around technical and football development at club and national-team level and in grassroots football, women’s football, talent identification, competitions, friendly matches and commercial opportunities.
“Caf is excited to work together and partner with the Saudi Arabian Football Federation to develop and grow football on our continent and globally,” said Motsepe in a statement. “There are also specific areas for mutually beneficial partnerships that we are discussing and announcements will be made in due course.”