Why CAF Moves Next AFCON To December 2025

Patrice Motsepe, President of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), announced last Friday that the next Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) will be held in Morocco from December 21, 2025, to January 18, 2026.

Originally scheduled for June and July 2025, the AFCON was rescheduled to avoid a clash with the inaugural Club World Cup in the United States, set for June 15 to July 13, 2025. Additionally, CAF sought to prevent overlapping with the UEFA Champions League in Europe.

“I am confident that the CAF AFCON Morocco 2025 will be extremely successful and the best AFCON in the history of this competition,” said Motsepe.

The announcement came after a virtual executive committee meeting held at CAF headquarters in Cairo.

Matchday six of the elite European club competition ends on December 11, 2025, and matchday seven begins on January 21, 2026. However, the new AFCON dates may conflict with the Premier League’s busy Christmas-New Year period, prompting concerns that some clubs might not release African players, as they are only required to do so for one international championship per year. The next World Cup is in 2026.

CAF may argue that the tournament is the 2025 AFCON, despite most of it occurring in the following year.

Finding suitable dates for the AFCON, a 24-nation tournament won by hosts Ivory Coast last February, has become increasingly challenging. A mid-year switch was successful for the 2019 edition in Egypt, avoiding a clash with European club seasons. However, the two subsequent editions in Cameroon and Ivory Coast were held in January and February to avoid the rainy seasons in central and west Africa.

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The qualifying draw for the 2025 AFCON is scheduled for July 4 in Johannesburg, with 48 hopefuls divided into 12 groups. Morocco will participate to gain competitive match practice but is guaranteed a place at the finals as hosts.

Unlike the European Championship, Copa America, and Asian Cup, which are held every four years, the AFCON occurs biennially, generating most of CAF’s revenue. In a recent TV interview, Motsepe revealed that CAF made an $80 million profit from the last AFCON hosted by Ivory Coast, a significant increase from previous editions.

The 2024 Women’s AFCON (WAFCON) has also been postponed and will now be played in Morocco from July 5-26 next year. New dates must be found for the African Nations Championship (CHAN), originally scheduled for Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda this year. The qualifying draw has not been made, and CAF has not explained the delay.

There has also been no update from CAF on a second edition of the African Football League (AFL), initially called the African Super League. The AFL, planned as a 24-club competition featuring the continent’s highest-ranked clubs, debuted last year with just eight sides in a three-round format.

“You can turn the lights off on domestic football if this (AFL) goes ahead,” warned John Comitis, chairman of top-flight South African club Cape Town City.

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