Lambert Mbom

Afcon 2023

Cote D’Ivoire – The 24 African teams participating in the TotalEnergies African Cup of Nations currently taking place in Cote D’Ivoire have assembled 625 players from across the world with most of the players coming from Europe. In all, these players are drawn from 83 countries.

According to the list of players submitted to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) last Jan. 6, 2024,15 countries submitted names of 27 players each, while three submitted 26 players each, two submitted 25 players each, one submitted 24, two 23 and one, 22.

Of the 625 players, 169 players are local. Hence 25 percent of the players currently compete with teams within the continent with the Angolan team fielding 26 players all home grown talent while South Africa has 25, Egypt 19 and Tanzania, 14. Equatorial Guinea, Guinea Bissau and Senegal are three teams with none of their selected players currently playing anywhere in Africa.

There is a biennial competition called CHAN – African Nations Championship organized by CAF meant for players on the continent. Each of the teams participating is expected to field home based players and is meant to promote local national leagues on the continent.

59.8 percent of the players taking part in this 34th edition of the African Cup of Nations competition in Cote D’Ivoire are playing in 37 countries in Europe with France hosting the lion’s share.

88 players at this biennial football jamboree making up 14 percent of the total number are coming in from France with Senegal having ten of the Teranga Lions playing in France, Mali 9, Ghana 8, Guinea 8 and Democratic Republic of Congo 7.  In all, 18 of the 24 teams taking part in this competition have players in France. Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and South Africa are the only teams that do not have any of their squad players at this competition playing in France.

Notice that TotalEnergies, the main sponsor of this African football competition is a French multinational energy and petroleum company. TotalEnergies operates in 40 African countries, most of whom are taking part in the current competition. Only Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Cape Verde and Gambia do not have the footprints of the oil giants.

54 players taking part in this competition currently play in England, 33 in Spain, 28 are playing in Turkey, 23 playing in Portugal, 20 are in Italy, Belgium has 20 and 19 are in Germany. Switzerland and Greece have 10 African players each.

CAF, Africa’s football governing body signed a sponsorship deal with Unilever, a British multinational company, headquartered in London and “one of the world’s leading suppliers of Beauty & Wellbeing, Personal Care, Home Care, Nutrition and Ice Cream products, with sales in over 190 countries and products used by 3.4 billion people every day.” After France, England has the next highest number of African players taking part in this competition.

Saudi Arabia is also a popular destination for African football players with 24 of the players taking part in this competition playing in the Saudi Pro league. Half a dozen of the teams at the AFCON 2023 have selected players currently playing in Saudi Arabia.

Even though the United States of America is a popular destination for African migrants, there are only four Africans at the current competition playing in the United States of America