8 ways the Euro is better than AFCON

The ongoing UEFA European Championship in France has once again proved the obvious – the huge gulf between the Euros and Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), with Africa still having a long way to go to catch up in all ramifications.

Euro 2016 expectedly stole the spotlight from the centennial edition of the Copa America in the United States of America (USA) which even commenced before it.

With the biennial showpiece gradually winding down and the AFCON set for January, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) can borrow a leaf from their European counterparts in the following ways.

  1. Number of teams

Unlike the AFCON with 16, the Euros had 24 teams on display – accommodating teams who never thought they would make it. Countries like Iceland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Albania and even Hungary only made it to France because of the expanded number of teams.

  1. It’s in the summer

Just like other international tournaments, the Euro is played in the summer at the end of the football season. In contrast, the AFCON is held in the winter (January) when the league is still in progress making it difficult for clubs to release players.

  1. Quadrennial nature

Bar the youth tournaments, major football competitions are held once in every four years. This gives the host country the opportunity to prepare properly. Meanwhile CAF’s decision to hold the AFCON every two years is another serious obstacle towards its development.

  1. Pitch condition

As shown in France, the pitch condition has a great effect on the quality of football.

“The turf on which the matches are played plays the biggest part in the overall quality of play,” former Super Eagles star, Segun Odegbami, said.

“As simplistic as this may look, in my estimation, it is the single most important factor needed to make African football to rise.”

  1. Technology

Another aspect the Euro has proven to be superior is in terms of technology.

“The presentation on television, the coverage with an unbelievable number of cameras showing every conceivable angle, the application of the latest technology,” Odegbami believes gives the Euro an edge.

  1. The fans

The number of passionate fans that travelled to France to watch their teams play is simply unbelievable. No wonder we’ve had cases of clashes between fans of rival countries and also recorded two deaths. Unlike the AFCON with scanty stadiums, the Euro is constantly filled to the brim.

  1. Better players

There’s also a huge difference in terms of the quality of players on parade in both tourneys. Three-time World Footballer of the Year, Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid teammate, Gareth Bale, France duo Dimitri Payet and Paul Pogba lead the endless roll-call of superstar players on display in France.

  1. Suspense

Who ever thought Iceland would beat England nor top a group that had Portugal? Or who would have thought a team like Wales will make it to the last four? Teams like Netherlands didn’t even make the party while favourites like Spain, England and Croatia all crashed out in the second round.