Sky Sports has added another feather to the cap of its football broadcasting portfolio by securing the media rights to this year’s Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
The broadcaster will distribute every fixture in the month-long tournament, due to be held in the Ivory Coast between 13 January and 11 February, to UK and Irish football fans.
In its announcement of the media rights package, Sky noted that “many Premier League players are set to take part” in the tournament. The outlet may be hoping that this drives engagement with AFCON among British and Irish Premier League fans.
“Fans will also be able to follow their favourite players and the evolving stories from the tournament on Sky Sports’ digital and social channels,” Sky’s statement read.
Sky particularly emphasised the significance of high-profile players Mohamed Salah, of Liverpool, and former Reds forward Sadio Mane, now of Al-Nassr, who will be representing their respective nations of Egypt and Senegal.
This could generate interest in the tournament in the UK, particularly due to Salah’s performance in the 2023/24 Premier League season so far, in which has played a key role in securing top spot in the table at the time of writing.
Fans may well tune in to see if the Egyptian – and other Premier League players – can pull off some impressive performances, but also to gauge whether AFCON could have an impact on current Premier League standings.
The tournament will begin with the group stages consisting of six different groups – Group A consists of Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea and Guinea-Bissau; Group B of Egypt, Ghana, Cape Verde and Mozambique; Group C of Senegal, Cameroon, Guinea and The Gambia; Group D of Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Angola; Group E of Tunisia, Mali, South Africa and Namibia; and Morocco, DR Congo, Zambia and Tanzania.
Meanwhile, games will be played across five host stadiums across four cities – the biggest being the 60,000 seat Alassane Ouattara Stadium and 33,000 seater Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium in Ivorian capital Abidjan, and the 40,000 seater Stade de la Paix in Bouake.
The remaining stadiums all have 20,000 seats – the Amadou Gon Coulibaly Stadium in Korhogo, the Laurent Pokou Stadium in San Pedro and the Charles Konan Banny Stadium in Yamoussoukro.
In the build up to tournament kick-off this Saturday, AFCON has been shoring up its commercial position regarding media and sponsorship, such as renewing its long-standing deal with telecommunications partner Orange.