Why 2025 AFCON may get December kick-off


The upcoming Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Morocco might begin in mid-December 2025 to accommodate the expanded FIFA Club World Cup and the new Champions League format.

However, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has denied claims that AFCON may be held every four years in the future.

Originally, the 2025 AFCON was scheduled for June and July to reduce conflicts with European club teams. However, recent reports suggested it might be moved to January 2026 due to the Club World Cup, which will take place in the United States from June 15 to July 13, 2025. CAF dismissed these reports and emphasized that discussions are ongoing.

A decision is expected within the next two weeks. Leading figures in Morocco’s organizing committee are advocating for the group stage to start in mid-December, with the final in mid-January. This timing could clash with the busy Premier League schedule during the Christmas period, as 17 of the league’s 20 clubs had representatives in the last AFCON in Côte d’Ivoire.

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The situation is further complicated by two additional matchdays in the expanded Champions League, scheduled for the last two weeks of January. This traditional mid-January to mid-February AFCON window, coinciding with the Champions League knockout stages, may cause more disruption than usual.

CAF sources have not ruled out a December start for the AFCON group stage after months of stakeholder discussions. In February, there was an agreement in principle to stage the tournament from July 20 to August 17, 2025, to avoid a clash with the Club World Cup, a move reportedly supported by FIFA. However, ongoing negotiations suggest this option is now unlikely.

The 2025 edition is poised to be the seventh consecutive AFCON to be rescheduled from its original dates.

“There is no CAF position or announcement on the dates for AFCON 2025,” stated Luxulo September, CAF’s head of media relations and operations, on X last week. “There are ongoing discussions between stakeholders to find common ground on dates. CAF Exco will meet to discuss and make a decision soon.”

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