CAF confident of breaking record 6.6 billion Afcon TV viewers
Africa’s premier soccer competition has come a long way. From two matches in 1957, captured on grainy black-and-white newsreel footage, this year’s Africa Nations Cup will feature 32 matches and attract billions of global television viewers.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) said it was confident of exceeding the record 6.6 billion cumulative television viewers who watched last year’s edition in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.
“We believe there will be a jump again in the numbers even though Egypt, which is one of our largest markets, did not qualify for the tournament,” CAF’s marketing and television director Amr Shaheen told Reuters ahead of the tournament’s kickoff in South Africa on Saturday.
The event has always been popular in Africa and now draws a global following thanks to the increasing number of players who enjoy high-profile careers, such as Ivory Coast and former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba.
It is a long way from the humble origins of the inaugural 1957 tournament, when just three teams competed.
Old newsreel footage still exists of the first tournament when the Egyptians emerged as champions ahead of Ethiopia and hosts Sudan.
All three, along with South Africa, were founder members of the African organising body in 1956 but South Africa were quickly expelled from the CAF ranks for their apartheid policy.