In Summary
  • Money matters. Money is such a poor motivator that before long, players will realise that the millions they are taking in, is pocket change compared to what their counterparts in Europe make.

Tournament prize money is big business in African football now. And it just got bigger because, emboldened by a sponsorship deal with Total, Caf announced an increase in prize-money for the period 2017-2020.
The total package for senior, underage, club, and women competitions now stands at $43m! For Chan alone, which kicks off in Morocco today, the total package is $5.4m. It starts at $175,000 for just showing up. Then, rises to $400,000 for making the semis and eventually $1.25m for winning the thing! it is grand sums we are talking about here.
The thing, though, is that to most players this money is a detached reality because only a tiny fraction finds its way into their wallets. The transactional relationship here is skewed in favor of the federations, whose standard rebuttal to any suspicions of unfair treatment is a patronising reference to ignorance about football finance and administration matters.
As such, a debate rages on as to whether this money should be going to the Federations who then split it amongst their obligations as they deem fit, or whether it should end up with the ultimate contestants – the players.
To be fair to the federations though, by the time many of them qualify for tournaments their accounts are overdrawn. And therefore, the instinct is to use this money to offset debt.
But one could then ask what debt? And how is it accrued and if the prize money is to settle debt how is this done? If it is being done at all, why does the debt continue to grow proportionally to the amount of prize money available, so much so that the begging bowls are drawn even before the tournaments end?
I am not suggesting that a federation answers to the whims of every player and fan, but I feel this is one area where transparency would address the lingering misconceptions or truths, which right now suggest that the players are the thought that comes after the nests of executives have been feathered by this prize money.
But I have a crazy thought about how Fufa can flip this. Let us agree that the Federation can’t premise its budgets on the windfall that prize money really is. Fufa might as well take a risk and split it even amongst the 23 players, seeing as it was never meant to cover any expenses in the first place.
I call it a risk because while the promise of money may at first boost productivity, it will not sustain it. Money is such a poor motivator that before long players will realise that the millions they are taking in, is pocket change compared to what their counterparts in Europe make. Then what?
Nonetheless consider this. Each of the 23 Cranes players at Chan would be due a minimum 27m in appearance fees. Double that for reaching the semis. And then start to imagine what the Shs195m that awaits each player on the tournament winning side would do to the reputation of a football career in the local league.