The Confederation of African Football have confirmed that the executive committed has passed a resolution to expand the biennial Africa Cup of Nations from 16 teams to 24.
CAF have also opted to switch the continental showpiece from January-February to June-July, although the tournament will still take place every two years, rather than moving to a four-year schedule.
A statement published on the confederation’s website, following the two-day CAF Symposium in Skhirat, near Rabat, confirmed the tournament expansion and dismissed any suggestion that the competition would take place outside of Africa, as had been proposed during the summit.
The switch eradicates a long-standing problem between CAF and European clubs unhappy with losing many of their African players for a month of the season every other year.
Similarly, while CAF’s inter-club competitions – the CAF Champions League and Confederation Cup – will not be expanded, the confederation have decided to shift them to an August-May calendar, rather than inside a single calendar year.
This change further brings African football in line with the European game, although various questions remain unanswered from the symposium, with many of the continent’s nations unable to boast the infrastructure to host 16-team Nations Cups, let alone an expanded 24-team tournament.
Elsewhere, CAF confirmed that the working group had decided to increase indemnities to referees, organise zonal Nations Cup qualifiers for the tournament at age-grade levels, and improve international partnerships and relations between CAF, its member associations, national governments and the African Union.