Here’s why it’s called AFCON 2023 even though it’s being played in January 2024

The official name of the tournament is indeed the “2023 Africa Cup of Nations,” even though it’s being played in January 2024. While the name may seem confusing at first, it reflects the complex logistical considerations behind running a major sporting event. Here’s why:

Original Schedule:

The tournament was originally scheduled to take place in Ivory Coast from June to July 2023, aligning with the Northern Hemisphere’s summer. This aimed to reduce scheduling conflicts with European club teams, who have many African players on their rosters.

Postponement due to Weather:

However, concerns about heavy rainfall and adverse weather conditions in Ivory Coast during those months led to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) postponing the tournament in July 2023.

Maintaining the Name:

Despite the shift to January 2024, the organizers decided to retain the “2023” designation for several reasons:

    • Sponsorship contracts: Changing the name could have complicated existing sponsorship deals tied to the “2023” branding.
    • Marketing & logistics: Re-marketing the entire tournament with a new year would have required significant additional effort and cost.
    • Tournament planning: Much of the planning and infrastructure development had already been done with the “2023” timeframe in mind.

Precedents for Name Retention:

This isn’t the first time a major sporting event has retained its original year despite being rescheduled. For example, Euro 2020 was also postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and played in 2021, but the original name was kept for similar reasons.

Potential Future Changes:

There have been discussions within CAF about potentially moving AFCON to a different time slot in the future, possibly to a biennial tournament played every four years instead of every two. This could potentially lead to a more consistent calendar and avoid future date conflicts.

So, while it may seem illogical on the surface, there are practical and logistical reasons why the tournament kept the “2023” title despite the shift to 2024. I hope this explanation clarifies the situation!