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Afcon 2027: Tournament Predicted to Be ‘Most Profitable’ With Three Hosts

The 2027 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) will be the most profitable in history according to Rogers Byamukama, a board member of the Federation of Uganda Football Associations (Fufa).

Uganda will host the tournament alongside East African neighbours Kenya and Tanzania – the first time in history that three countries have delivered the continental showpiece.

“There’s a minimum guarantee of nine completely sold-out home games – a record that has never been achieved before since a single host can only guarantee three home games,” Byamukama told BBC Sport Africa.

“I can declare with confidence that the 2027 tournament will be the most commercially viable event for the Confederation of African Football (Caf).”

Caf will not be dealing with the host countries individually but as an entity, and soon the three nations are expected to name a joint organising committee.

The three hosts aim to have a shared spirit of ‘Pamoja’ – which translates as unity or together – yet a tournament spread across Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania entails unique challenges.

Stakeholders from all three countries met in Kenya this week for the first time since their bid was accepted, with discussions dominated by infrastructure and anticipated difficulties.

“It’s no secret that infrastructure has been one of the biggest challenges in this region,” Byamukana said.

“But even as things stand right now, we have enough stadiums available to host the tournament. Renovating these facilities is a simpler approach than starting from scratch.

“It’s very profound that the three governments have committed to funding the construction of new stadiums. Sports infrastructure ought to be the main legacy of [hosting] the Afcon.”

Meanwhile, Byamukana expects the 2027 Nations Cup will be able to take advantage of both existing transport links and the collective population of the host countries, which adds up to over 162 million people.

“Our population is probably next to Nigeria, making it a very good Afcon market,” he added.

“The beauty about our borders lies in our unity and seamless road transport, making it affordable for fans to watch a game in Nairobi, travel overnight by bus to Kampala for another match then take another bus to Dar es Salaam.

“This is such a powerful and highly marketable fan experience.”

A $90m deposit

An expanded Nations Cup comes with high cost implications, and the ‘Pamoja’ hosts have not had to wait too long for conversations about money to begin – especially with a recent review of tournament guidelines requiring host countries to now deposit a guarantee fee.

The 2027 hosts are expected to make a cash deposit of $90m (£73.7m) to Caf – translating to $30m per country – by 15 January 2025.

“None of the countries in the East African region was going to be able to host the tournament individually,” admitted Byamukana.

“This money is meant to facilitate the logistics involved around hotels, security, VIP protection.”

The pre-paid guarantee deposit is expected to minimise the risk of a late postponement or re-allocation of hosting rights emanating from financial challenges.

For example, Guinea was stripped of rights to host the 2025 Nations Cup last October as the West African country was considered unprepared while Cameroon had the 2019 tournament taken away to be hosted by Egypt instead.

The true cost of the 2027 joint tournament has not yet been determined beyond the initial deposit, although Byamukana states “there is no cause for alarm” regarding financing.

Kenyan stadium ‘will be ready’

Caf requires host nations to have a minimum of six stadiums to host a Nations Cup, two of which must be 40,000-seater and above.

The rest can be anywhere above a 20,000 capacity, which means that the three countries only need two large anchor stadiums among them.

Uganda announced the Mandela National Stadium in Kampala will serve as their main venue once ongoing renovations are finished while the Nakivubo War Memorial Stadium, which has been undergoing its own renovations for almost ten years, will serve as a back-up.

There are also plans to build a stadium in Hoima, roughly 200km north west of Kampala.

Meanwhile, Kenya’s cabinet secretary Ababu Namwamba confirmed construction of a brand new stadium in Nairobi called the Talanta Stadium.

The minister recently turned over stadium renovations to the country’s military in an effort to cut down on the government’s rigorous procurement procedure and eliminate any delays.

The handover may have been prompted by the fact that in 2017 Kenya was stripped of the rights to host the 2018 African Nations Championship because of stadia infrastructure delays.

“We will be ready for the Afcon no matter what, and we will be ready on time,” Namwamba promised.

Tanzania ‘ahead of schedule’

Tanzania appears best prepared of the three hosts, with Tanzania Football Federation president Wallace Karia confirming the Benjamin Mkapa Stadium in Dar es Salaam as their main venue.

The 60,000-seater would be ready to host if the Nations Cup kicked off today, and the stadium was sold out when it hosted the opening match of the inaugural African Football League between Simba and Al Ahly on 20 October.

In addition, the Uhuru (Kinondoni Municipal) Stadium and Major General Isamuhyo Stadium are currently undergoing renovations and are expected to be ready next year.

“The stadiums are closer to completion than anyone may think,” said Karia, who is also the president of the Council for East and Central Africa Football Associations (Cecafa).

He also announced the construction of new stadiums in the capital Dodoma and Arusha, presenting already-approved designs, with work scheduled to start in 2024.

“We are making incredible progress and will be ready ahead of schedule, although I do not want this to be translated as a bragging contest,” he added.

“Our goal remains hosting together and strengthening our East African community bond.”

In a bid to spread out the benefits of staging the Nations Cup, there was confirmation that Zanzibar will be added to the hosting bandwagon, with Zanzibar’s sports minister Tabia Maulid Mwita announcing the Amaan Stadium as a potential host ground.

“The stadium has already received a positive nod from Caf but we need to increase its current capacity to 20,000 seats,” Mwita said.

“This work is already under way.”

Source : BBC