The 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) kicked off on Sunday, January 9 in Douala, Cameroon. Africa’s flagship football tournament will feature 24 teams from across the continent, including African football powerhouses like Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria, Algeria and the host country Cameroon.
At the heart of the tournament is the pride of clinching the trophy as well as the cash prize. In 2019 when the last tournament was hosted, the ultimate prize money was $4.5 million. For this year’s tournament, the prize money has been increased to $5 million.
In 2019 when Algeria won the tournament and received $4.5 million, runners-up Senegal got $2.5 million. This year’s runners-up will get $2.75 million. According to the Confederation of African Football (CAF), the prize money increment was to demonstrate its commitment to rewarding merit, performance and enhancing the status of the competition.
While the ultimate prize money for the competition is $5 million, teams who qualify for the next rounds of the competition will also get prize money.
Two teams from each of the four groups will qualify for the next stage of the competition. Each of the eight teams who qualify to the quarter-finals will receive $1.175 million, an increase of 175,000.
Four of the eight teams that qualify to the semi-finals will receive $2.2 million, an increase of $200,000 from the previous amount.
According to Quartz Africa, the AFCON competition lags in prize money compared to similar tournaments in other continents. Italy received over $11 million for winning the European Championships in July 2021. Also, Argentina received $6.5 million for winning the Copa America and the runner-up got $3.5 million.
AFCON, founded in 1957 and sanctioned by CAF, is the main international men’s association football competition in Africa. The most successful nation is Egypt, with seven titles in 1957, 1959, 1986, 1998, 2006, 2008 and 2010. Egypt are also the only national team to win the tournament three times in a row — 2006, 2008 and 2010.
Algeria are the reigning champions, winning their second title in 2019.
This year’s AFCON was originally scheduled to be played in 2021 but was postponed twice due to the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.