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Everything You Can Expect From Africa’s Biggest Football Tournament, AFCON

pan-Africanism done wrong

All efforts to bring African nations together will be put on hold for the next few weeks as every country on the continent is facing the other right now at the 2024 African Cup of Nations (AFCON). Often described as the premiere football tournament in the region, the event’s, which is currently being held in Ivory Coast, return typically marks the resurgence of some of the world’s fiercest rivalries and unprecedented levels of nationalist pride.

Having kicked off on Jan. 14, and set to run until Feb. 11, the biannual competition will this year see 24 national teams try to claim the title of best African team and topple defending champions, Senegal. For the 34th edition of the prestigious gathering, four countries will proudly be representing the Arab World — namely Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Egypt — only adding another layer of intensity to the widely followed sporting event.


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Off the back of their historic run at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar almost exactly a year ago today, Morocco stands as one of AFCON’s favorites as they are expected to repeat their impressive feat, ride their momentum, and show off heightened levels of football on the pitch. With that being said, one must not underestimate the unpredictable nature of the people’s game, where underdogs can often rise to the occasion and knock giants off their perch— especially with the presence of seven-time AFCON champions Egypt.

Undeniably exciting yet incredibly stressful, beyond the boundaries of the field, now is also the time to remind ourselves of some important guidelines to follow in upcoming weeks, namely respect, good sportsmanship, and zero tolerance for racism. Having consistently plagued the competition since its inception in 1957 and overtly displayed since social media became humankind’s modern agora, the historical specter of discrimination between North Africa and sub-Saharan countries has continued to rear its ugly head year in and year out. What should initially have been an opportunity to showcase the best qualities that define our respective homelands, has unfortunately grown into a lamentable arena for discriminating attitudes, comments, and rhetorics entertained by fans, pundits, and officials alike.

Competition is good, but it should never overshadow the spirit of unity and camaraderie that football aims to foster. As they say, one can love their own without harboring hatred for others, and as we gather around screens and stadiums and find ourselves at the crossroads between passion and rivalry, let’s make sure to never drown out the symphony of togetherness that defines the true essence of the beautiful game.

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