Readying African football for the global stage.

Unlike the European football clubs and leagues that currently dominate the billion dollar game in both investments and competitions, African football has far less money for vital operations.

For example, Real Madrid, Europe's most valuable club, has a market value of $5.1 billion, compared with Egypt's Al Ahly SC, the most in Africa with a market value of just over $35.4 million.

European football clubs collectively raise billions of dollars selling television rights to broadcasters, signing sponsorship deals and selling merchandise. They then use a portion of this income to scout for and sign up talented players and develop the next generation of top-level athletes.

Africa accounts for only one per cent, or $300 million, of the world's overall sponsorship funding, according to Statista.

Building infrastructure, rebuilding trust

Globally, the football industry does not operate in isolation. It needs reliable and functioning infrastructure, major financial investment, high levels of integrity and a strong commitment to cultivating new players and fans. These are essential for long-term success of any football ecosystem.

The African football ecosystem faces two core challenges in competing with European leagues.

First, many African countries lack the financial muscle to build necessary infrastructure, such as stadiums, training facilities and reliable transportation, according to Jean-Philippe Dubois, marketing director of Samba Digital, an international sports marketing agency with a presence in Africa.

'African football clubs often struggle with funding, with many clubs relying on government subsidies or donations from wealthy individuals. This lack of investment can limit the quality of facilities, equipment and coaching available to players,' he said.

By building the suitable capacity and improving the quality of professionals managing the sport right from the grassroots, Africa will also mitigate corruption and mismanagement, which is severely hindering football development in the region.

Second, corruption is a pressing concern for the sport, with regular allegations of match fixing, bribery and mismanagement of funds. 'This has led to a lack of trust and transparency within the football ecosystem, which can deter fans, investors and sponsors from getting involved,' Dubois added.

Kelvin Omuojine, principal associate at SportHouse LP - a Nigerian sports law firm - also believes that the industry's weak governance system is preventing it...

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