The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Sky have agreed a deal to broadcast the 2021 TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations in the United Kingdom (UK) and the Republic of Ireland. The involvement of Sky will be a major boost for the Confederation of African Football (CAF), especially in terms of technical and financial support in the wake of the pandemic.
The Africa Cup of Nations final will be one of 10 matches in the upcoming tournament to be shown live on the BBC. Two quarter-finals and both semi-finals will also be on the BBC, which also has digital clips as part of the deal.
Sky, on the other hand, will telecast all 52 games in the event, which will be played in Cameroon between January 9 and February 6, 2021.
Barbara Slater, Director of BBC Sport said “We’re thrilled to be bringing such a prestigious event free-to-air for UK audiences”.
“The African Cup of Nations launches a huge year of international football and I know fans will look forward to following all the action from the competition across BBC platforms”.Barbara Slater
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) said securing the UK and Ireland deal with the BBC and Sky was important for the Cup of Nations, the single-biggest sporting event on African soil, to be “accessible all over the world”.
According to Veron Mosengo-Omba, CAF General Secretary, “this event is consumed not only by Africans but enjoys a global audience”.
“In Cameroon next year, we are planning an event bigger and better product that will attract millions of viewers. We are excited to see Sky and the BBC on board”.Veron Mosengo-Omba
CAF Dismissed rumors about Cancellation of AFCON
The tournament was initially scheduled for 2021 but was postponed due to COVID-19. Last week, CAF dismissed rumors the tournament could be moved away from Cameroon following the recent discovery of the new Omicron variant of COVID-19. Shortly afterwards, new rumors suggested that CAF was holding meetings which will likely lead to a possible cancellation of the tournament with less than four weeks to kick-off amid concerns over the new COVID Variant.
More reports on Wednesday, December 15, 2021 suggested the event was under threat, leading to Luxolo September, Head of Media Relations and Operations at CAF, dismissing those allegations as “lies”. European clubs have also raised concerns over the threat of COVID-19 and how it is likely to affect the schedules of African players who play their football in Europe.
The tournament promises some mouthwatering encounters at the group stages with defending Champions, Algeria, set to face former winners Ivory Coast in the group stage of the delayed 2021 Africa Cup of Nations. The Fennec Foxes are tipped by most pundits to retain the title they won in Egypt in 2019, despite fierce completion from other countries such as Senegal, Egypt, Morocco, Cameron, Ghana, Nigeria, and the Ivory Coast.
Algerian football has been on an upward trajectory in the last few years, highlighted by the 2019 CAF Africa Cup of Nations triumph in Egypt. There is now fierce competition for places in the national team, especially in midfield, an area overflowing with talent such as Ismael Bennacer, Ramiz Zerrouki, Adem Zorgane and Sofiane Feghouli, to name just four.
The 32nd edition of Africa’s football showpiece, usually held every two years, took place in Egypt from June 21 to July 19, 2019. On July 20, 2017, the CAF Executive Committee decided to move the Africa Cup of Nations from January/February to June/July for the first time and also expanded the participatory teams from 16 to 24. CAF however, rescinded its decision and moved the 33rd edition to be hosted by Cameroon back to January/February.