African leagues and federations have been considering change: The Kenyan government has looked to sponsor a Ufabet Premier League exhibition game or two, but the money initially allocated for the Magic Cup’, as the project was fancifully known, evaporated. The private sector has proved more reliable.
African leagues and federations have been considering change
Everton, sponsored by the Kenyan online betting firm Sportpesa, played their first games in Africa in 2017 at a tournament in Dar es Salaam. African clubs don’t keep the most comprehensive attendance records in the world, but casual observation of the stands and attention to the ufabet debate in the local press make it abundantly clear that the size of the crowds at the local game has, since the arrival of satellite television, plummeted almost everywhere on the continent.
Writing of the national derby in the 1990s between Heart of Oaks and Asante Kotoko, one Ghanaian recalled ‘those days when football fans showed up at the then Kumasi Sports Stadium very early in the morning to stand in long queues to purchase tickets for a game that will kick off eight hours later.
People outside Kumasi had to come a day before matches to sleep at the stadium.’ Such was the demand that there was even a black market in tickets. Today, there are no queues and the ยูฟ่าเบท stands are at best half full.21 In Zimbabwe, the crowd at the country’s biggest game, Highlanders v Dynamos, halved between 2012 and 2014.
At just 13,000, it was easily the largest crowd of the season, when most clubs would be pleased with four-figure attendances of any kind.22 In Uganda, where once Express v SC Villa could command crowds of 15,000, they now play in front of just a thousand people. In the provinces, the audiences are in the low hundreds.
The pull of European football in terms of both sporting spectacle and its encrusted cultural meanings are strong, but the parlous state of domestic ufabet football on television and in the stadium is equally important in pushing people away. Compared to the multiple cameras and microphones on European television coverage, and its slick editing and graphics, African football just can’t compete.
African leagues and federations have been considering change. Some have proposed shifting their entire seasons from the European, September-to-May, model to a summer league. Others have tried to ยูฟ่าเบท shift their kick-off times. The general manager of FC Abuja was candid. ‘Whenever we play at the same time as an Arsenal game, nobody shows up. As to the football itself? The cameras, however few of them there are, do not lie.
The ball does not move sweetly, the pitches are, more often than not, in desperate condition. There is still talent in Africa, but more than 3,000 of its professionals are playing outside the continent. The top one hundred or so are concentrated at the biggest and richest leagues in Europe.
They are on television almost every day, and they are not coming back.