Summer or winter? The date of CAN 2025 in Morocco is controversial

The 2024 African Cup of Nations ended on February 11 with a triumph, that of Ivory Coast, the host country, and a mystery about the dates of the next edition in Morocco

Summer or winter? The date of CAN 2025 in Morocco is controversial

The 2024 African Cup of Nations ended on February 11 with a triumph, that of Ivory Coast, the host country, and a mystery about the dates of the next edition in Morocco. While the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMR) announced in a press release on February 5 that the CAN would take place “in the summer of 2025, in accordance with the high royal requests,” Agence France-Presse clarified at the end of the month, based on an anonymous statement from a member of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), that the tournament would take place from July 20 to August 17, 2025.

However, very quickly, Véron Mosengo-Omba, the Swiss-Congolese secretary general of the body, contradicted this information, specifying that “CAF did not yet know when the competition would take place”, the date being the subject of discussions. with “Morocco, FIFA and the European Club Association”.

Le Monde has since contacted a member of CAF and several presidents of African federations, who confirm Mr. Mosengo-Omba's comments. “We have not actually received any information on the dates of CAN 2025, we just know that they will be announced soon,” assures Saïd Ali Athoumane, president of the Comoros Football Federation (FFC).

Time, certainly, to find space in the complex international calendar and while the summer of 2025 is already taken up by the new edition of the Club World Cup, which will take place from June 15 to July 13, in the United States , thirty-two teams from all continents. Several African internationals likely to be selected for the final phase of the CAN should also participate.

During the two hottest months in Morocco?

Gianni Infantino, FIFA President, attaches great importance to this tournament, which will serve as a dress rehearsal for the World Cup organized in the United States, Canada and Mexico. “He does not want the Club World Cup to compete with the CAN, not only because clubs would be deprived of their African internationals, which would cause the event to lose value, but also for the question of TV rights, deciphers a former member of FIFA. Gianni Infantino will therefore probably exert all his weight, and it is important, for the CAN to take place on other dates. »

The hypothesis of a CAN between June 15 and July 15 therefore appears compromised, and the reasoning also applies to the period from July 20 to August 17. Indeed, this would force certain players who played in the Club World Cup to cross the Atlantic Ocean to continue with a second competition organized during the two hottest months of the year in Morocco, and without having been able to prepare with their national selection.

“It would be dangerous for the health of the players, already in high demand, and difficult to get clubs to admit,” warns Raoul Savoy, the Swiss coach of the Central African Republic. Indeed, players must have compulsory rest time after an international tournament.

However, in August, the national championships and continental interclub competitions have already resumed. The players affected by the CAN would therefore not be immediately available for their respective clubs. Additionally, FIFA has already scheduled the 7th and 8th days of qualifying for the 2026 World Cup between September 1 and 9, 2025.

CAF will have to quickly position itself

“So this would mean that for the selections which would go the furthest at the CAN, their players would only have a few days of vacation before returning to Africa at the end of August to play these qualifying matches for the World Cup? It seems impossible to me,” notes the Italian Stefano Cusin, the Comoros coach.

Faced with this reality of the calendar, CAF will have to quickly position itself. But within several African federations, the prospect of playing the CAN in January and February 2025 or 2026 is gaining ground. “The date of winter 2025 is indeed circulating. When we examine the calendar closely, we see that this is a plausible hypothesis, admits Lazare Banssé, the president of the Burkinabé Football Federation (FBF). In addition, the necessary infrastructure already exists in Morocco. » The kingdom has in fact selected six stadiums (Rabat, Casablanca, Agadir, Marrakech, Tangier and Fez) to host the competition, all approved by FIFA even if some of them are the subject of development work.

Faced with the continuing unknown, a Moroccan source close to the matter puts forward some hypotheses. “The CAN in January and February 2025, with the work, I don’t know if Morocco would be on time. It could be played in the summer if FIFA agrees to bring forward the Club World Cup to the beginning of June. Or in January and February 2026,” she emphasizes. CAF is expected to announce the dates of the competition soon. A verdict that Sébastien Desabre, the French coach of the Democratic Republic of Congo, awaits without particular anxiety.

“The ideal would be in summer, from June 15 to July 15, but with the Club World Cup, that seems compromised to me. We will be happy to be there anyway, whatever the period,” he says. However, the time for a decision is pressing. On March 20 and 26, four matches are scheduled between the eight lowest ranked African teams for a first preliminary round. The qualifying matches for the next CAN will take place from September to November 2024.