Nigerian Football Star, Asisat Oshoala Blames CAF for Cancelling 2020 Women's Tourney, Welcomes Women African Champions’ League

The cancellation of the 2020 Africa Women's Football Cup of Nations by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has been described as a wrong decision that will not positively impact the development of the game on the continent.

This was the submission of Asisat Oshoala, a Nigerian female footballer, who is also the 2019  African Women’s Player award winner. Oshoala, Captain of Nigeria’s senior women national team, the Super Falcons, was not happy with the decision of CAF to cancel the 2020 Africa Women's Cup of Nations, which was scheduled to hold between November 23 and December 20 at a yet to be named venue.

CAF at its Executive Committee meeting held on June 30 announced the cancellation of the continental women’s showpiece attributing the decision to the rampaging novel Coronavirus pandemic.

The Nigerian player said CAF’s decision failed the expectations of all the women footballers in Africa, adding that the action showed that the football governing body was not serious about developing the women’s game.

“As a player, I feel really bad and it is unfair to all female players because this is the only big tournament for the women in Africa, and it holds every two years. CAF should have come up with a good reason for this action. There is no excuse, it is like they were actually not prepare,” she said.

Oshoala noted that regrettably, female football was not getting the desired attention it needs for its development especially from football authorities on the continent.

“I could remember the 2016 edition in Cameroon. The enthusiasm of the fans and the people was so great. I think women football is getting attention from the people already. We suppose to build on that. Unfortunately, the football authorities in Africa are not given us the needed attention. CAF as the head is now taking a decision to cancel the tournament.

“Since the cancellation has been announced, I expected a lot of federations in countries across Africa to come out to make statements denouncing this. The whole continent, even the media has been so quiet. If we don’t get support from member federations and even CAF itself, who else will come out to support our game in terms of sponsorship for the Nations Cup.

“I am very sure that if CAF decided to cancel the AFCON for the men game, a lot of people, federations, and players would have gone crazy about this, but in the case of the women’s tournament, which was just cancelled, nobody speaks for us. The foundation for support for the game must come from CAF, people have to know how serious CAF is to the development of the game before outside help will come.

“When the cancellation was announced some of the women players from South Africa, Cameroon and others voiced out their displeasure, but at the end of the day, the players are speaking up, other people are keeping quiet, even the media. This won’t help the cause at all. The investment and seriousness on the part of CAF will attract support from the corporate world in Africa. If you see the packaging of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, you will understand that FIFA has been doing a lot to make the World Cup attractive and the result is what we use to see every four year. The France 2019 was a huge success and the tournament gets bigger every edition.

“We should not find ourselves looking for which country to host the Africa Women's Cup of Nations. It is so sad that in 2020, a tournament which will hold in November, CAF is still looking for the host nation in March. This is the problem and it should not be,” Oshoala said in an interview on a Lagos-based local radio, Brila FM, from her base in Barcelona. Spain.

Oshoala, who plays for Spanish side FC Barcelona Femení in the Primera División as a forward also frowned at the cancellation of the 2020 edition of CAF awards.

Timescape magazine reports that CAF Awards is an annual awards evening held to honour the best African association football players.

“Why should they cancel the only awards we have in Africa. I still don’t get it? I am not worried about myself but for our upcoming players. If they said the CAF Awards was cancelled because of Covid-19, I think we can still have virtual awards ceremony, which has been the popular thing since the pandemic started. The virtual awards I am talking about will be economically friendly, they won’t have to spend anything in organising the ceremony, buy flight tickets for dignitaries or invite artistes to entertain guests on the night. They can have the awards on Zoom. Even in the midst of this pandemic, we can still have time to celebrate ourselves and now they are saying that they have cancelled the only thing we have gotten to celebrate ourselves in Africa.

“You are postponing tournaments, you are cancelling awards, I think this is not funny in an era when people are having meetings and broking deals on Zoom. A lot of things are happening through technology these days,” she said.

However, the idea of playing an African Women Champions League as announced by CAF after its Executive Meeting delighted Oshoala, who had once played in England for Liverpool Ladies and Dalian Quanjian in the Chinese League

She said: “Actually this is a very good move for us to have women club competition on the continent. This inter-countries competition will no doubt improve women football in Africa and help further develop the game. There will be more game times for the players. I am really happy and I must give kudos to CAF for this move.”

Meanwhile, the inability of Nigeria’s Super Falcons to make impressive outings on the global stage in the FIFA Women’s World Cup is a source of worry to Oshoala and she is not happy with this.

The Super Falcons have won the Africa Women Nations Cup 11 times out of 13 editions the competition was organised since 1991 to represent Nigeria and Africa at the World Cup. But when they got to the mundial, the performance has always been below expectations.

“I think the solution is that we just have to improve on how much we play games every year. The European opponents we usually face at the World Cup play for so many times in a year, but for us we only come together to play in the qualifiers during preparation for the World Cup. This is a big problem for us in the Falcons. We need to play more invitational tournaments and I believe the federation is working on this,” she concluded.