Africa has talent on and off the field to thrive, but needs structure to compete with European wages

IN AFRICA itself, professional football is not doing so well, let alone the club leagues.

I fear that, despite all Fifa’s solemn promises and grandiose plans, this will continue.

The football structure in Africa needs to be improved to compete with Europe

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The football structure in Africa needs to be improved to compete with EuropePhoto credit: Getty
Morocco made history as the first African country to reach the semi-finals of a World Cup

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Morocco made history as the first African country to reach the semi-finals of a World CupPhoto credit: Getty

It is truly history that Morocco reached the semi-finals of the World Cup.

It’s a shout out to the strong footballing countries that elite level coaching is top notch in the less developed countries.

And the skills are by no means taught by expats, all five countries that made it to Qatar were trained by Africans.

So we know that both on and off the pitch they have the talent to succeed on the world stage.

The difference is that in Africa, from Morocco to Zimbabwe, the average footballer makes £7,000 a month, while the average Premier League wage is more than £250,000 a month.

This is not a reflection of the talent, but a direct reflection of the different organizational structures of the national leagues and the broadcasting rights and sponsorship revenues that each generates.

The knock-on effect for African football is that outstanding footballers are quick to realize that fortunes are being made in Europe, far beyond national borders, where top-flight football is easier to come by and wages are much, much higher.

Now the USA, Japan and the oil states are also attracting their players and robbing Africa of many riches. As always.

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Much of Africa is footballing but actual progress on their own fields has been gradual, in no small part due to lack of equipment, issues with fan safety and the sheer fact that cut turf is not readily available.

This has never stopped boys, or increasingly girls, from playing the game, but unforgiving playing fields, from sand to rock, take some willingness to overcome.

Fifa wants to help.

Publishing accounts isn’t their forte, but they’re believed to have spent £2.5billion on global aid over the last six years.

Split that across 200 or so countries and take in too many fat old boards and employees with a penchant for posh offices, nice hotels and their own fleet of cars.

Fifa profit from the Qatar competition alone is about £7 billion.

In the long run, the old-fashioned market economy is likely to fare better than dutiful charity, as Africa’s footballing countries seem to be teeming with scouts scouting for talent.

I hope that over time, high TV license fees and richer citizens will boost domestic clubs to the point where, say, 20 national premier leagues will pay players competitive salaries and keep their talent.

Back in 1977, Pele predicted, “An African country will win the World Cup before the year 2000.” That hasn’t happened, but they’re getting closer.

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The precedents for the level of domestic African football are not good.

And the plan to feature at least nine teams from the continent at the expanded 2026 World Cup will not help much if the focus remains on individual talent outside of Africa rather than national team development within Africa.

https://www.the-sun.com/sport/6935080/africa-talent-suceed-lack-structure-compete-europe-brady-exclusive/ Africa has talent on and off the field to thrive, but needs structure to compete with European wages

ClareFora

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