The Cote d'Ivoire team and President Alassane Ouattara (with trophy) celebrate with the AFCON trophy after victory over Nigeria in this year’s final
The Cote d'Ivoire team and President Alassane Ouattara (with trophy) celebrate with the AFCON trophy after victory over Nigeria in this year’s final

Next AFCON could move to December 2025 to avoid clash with Club World Cup

The next edition of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Morocco could start in mid-December, 2025, to accommodate the expanded Club World Cup and the new Champions League format next year, the Guardian understands. 


The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has however, strongly denied claims that the competition may only take place every four years in future.

The 2025 tournament had originally been earmarked to take place in June and July next year in an attempt to reduce scheduling conflicts with European club teams and competitions.

But CAF was forced to deny reports last week that it would be moved to January 2026 due to the clash with the Club World Cup – the 32-team competition that will be held in the United States between 15 June and 13 July next year.

A final decision is expected within the next fortnight but it is understood that leading figures in Morocco’s organising committee have been pushing for the group stage to begin in mid-December, with the final being held in the middle of January.

That would mean a potential clash with the busy festive Premier League programme that usually takes place over Christmas, with 17 of its 20 clubs having had a representative at the last tournament in Ivory Coast this year.

The situation has been further complicated by the addition of two extra match days scheduled for the last two weeks of January in the expanded Champions League that begins next season in Europe.

That means the traditional window for AFCON in mid-January to mid-February – when the knockout stages of the Champions League are due to start – is likely to cause even more disruption than usual.

CAF sources have refused to rule out the possibility of starting the group stage in December after months of talks between stakeholders that have failed to reach consensus.

In February, it was reported to have reached an agreement in principle to stage the tournament between 20 July and 17 August 2025 due to the clash with the Club World Cup – a move that was said to be backed by FIFA. 

However, that option now appears unlikely with negotiations continuing. The 2025 edition is set to become the seventh Afcon in succession to be rescheduled from its original dates.

“There is no CAF position or announcement on the dates for AFCON 2025,” wrote Luxulo September, CAF’s head of media relations and operations on X last week. “There are on-going discussions between stakeholders to find common ground on dates. CAF Exco will meet to discuss and take a decision soon.”

Several sources from African national associations have also revealed their fears to the Guardian that plans for the tournament to be held every four years instead of two are accelerating.

The FIFA president, Gianni Infantino, proposed the change in 2020 when he outlined his vision to “project African football to the top of the world”, arguing that it would be more beneficial for countries “at the commercial level”.

However, that was dismissed as “impossible” by CAF sources and its president, Patrice Motsepe, committed to maintaining the status quo when he was elected in 2021. “This is one area where there are different views among different people – I have no doubt it has to be every two years,” he said.

Motsepe has not yet announced whether he will be standing for re-election next year.

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