Why Caf should add esports to the Afcon tray

Victor Wanyama

Victor Wanyama and Arnold Origi play a FIFA22 match on PlayStation.

Photo credit: Pool

What you need to know:

  • The contemporary football fan desires flexibility in consuming the sport, and embracing esports and video gaming is a logical step to meet these evolving preferences.
  • The potential benefits in terms of fan engagement, brand promotion, and revenue generation should make eAFCON a compelling proposition for CAF.

One of the biggest talking points of the upcoming African Cup of Nations (Afcon 2023) has been the TV rights, driven by the fans clamor for increased accessibility to Africa's premier sports event.

Now more than ever, CAF has to devise ways of taking the game to the fans where they want, when they want, and how the want it. 

While CAF has remarkably improved on its digital media approach, with active, interactive and multilingual social media platforms, a glaring omission in CAF's approach to fan engagement is the absence of esports and video gaming.

Unlike other continental football federations, CAF has not ventured into the realm of esports editions for its flagship events. Fifa has the FIFA eNations Cup, Uefa hosts the eEURO, and CONMEBOL has the eLibertadores. Why doesn't Afcon have its own eAFCON?

Firstly, the numbers support the idea, with approximately 186 million people playing video games in Africa as of 2022, according to NewZoo. Creating an eAFCON provides CAF with a platform to tap into this market, retaining the interest of current AFCON fans, engaging new ones, and revitalizing the passion of those losing interest.

Additionally, Africa has the world’s youngest population and esports is youth centric in nature.

An eAFCON competition could significantly enhance brand awareness and engagement for Afcon.

By introducing the tournament in the gaming world, fans will meet the Afcon on their gaming screen and that will arouse their interest in following the real game action, subsequently translating into higher viewership for the real Afcon matches and increased social media interaction on CAF platforms.

Furthermore, an eAFCON could serve as a powerful tool for promoting CAF's intellectual properties (IP), such as the official Afcon match ball, anthem, trophy, and stadiums.

In this digital era, where a generation often encounters players and teams first through video games, there's an untapped marketing opportunity for CAF to connect with young fans.

Crucially, an eAFCON can become a new revenue stream for CAF. Licensing rights paid by video game publishers to include CAF's IP in the game, along with potential sponsorships for the eAFCON, can significantly contribute to CAF's financial gains. 

For us in the esports world, we long for the day eAFCON shall be a reality and we are ready, when called upon to offer our contribution in making this a reality.  

The contemporary football fan desires flexibility in consuming the sport, and embracing esports and video gaming is a logical step to meet these evolving preferences.

The potential benefits in terms of fan engagement, brand promotion, and revenue generation should make eAFCON a compelling proposition for CAF.