Why is the Africa Cup of Nations played in January?

AFCON 2021

The Africa Cup of Nations kicks off in Ivory Coast on January 13 and some European football fans are confused by the timing as it is in the middle of their club calendar.

The tournament was originally due to be played in the summer of 2023, but Confederation of African Football (CAF) president Patrice Motsepe decided to move the competition following concerns about weather conditions in the West African country during that time. .

Ivory Coast generally experiences a rainy season between June and October, which could put matches at risk of being postponed if the AFCON was held in June and July.

Motsepe had the following to say about the change: “We took a lot of advice and decided we couldn’t take any chances. We don’t want to risk our top competition being destroyed.”

However, the 2024 tournament is not the first to take place between January and February.

Why is AFCON in January?

AFCON tends to be scheduled in January for several reasons. Most obviously, this timing tends to coincide with more favorable weather conditions across much of Africa.

Temperatures are generally milder in January and February, ensuring player safety and minimizing the impact of extreme heat. As for the 2023 finals, holding them in early 2024 will also prevent the event from being affected by Ivory Coast’s rainy season.

Holding the tournament at this time also coincides with the mid-season break enjoyed by many European soccer leagues, placing it ahead of the start of leagues such as MLS and the top divisions in Argentina and Brazil. This allows African players competing in these leagues to participate without significantly disrupting their club commitments, although of course it is impossible for some to miss club matches.

Holding the AFCON in January also avoids conflicts with other major international football tournaments such as the FIFA World Cup, European Championship or Copa America, which are both taking place in June 2024.

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