R15m boost for African football
The Standard Bank Group, which has representation in 17 African countries including South Africa and trades as Stanbic Bank in some of these countries, announced that it is an official sponsor of the MTN Africa Cup of Nations, Ghana 2008. In addition, Standard Bank also announced its sponsorship of the MTN CAF Champions League. Namibia’s Theo Mberirua, Managing Director at Standard Bank said, “Part of Standard Bank group’s vision is to be relevant to the societies in which we operate and we cannot think of a more relevant and unifying force than football. It helps bring people together. We at Standard Bank fully believe in the future of Africa. The continent has the potential to successfully compete with other global power blocs on the sporting and cultural front. Our sponsorship is a contribution to help uplift African football to reach its full potential. As a bank with its roots firmly entrenched on this lovely continent, Standard Bank is as passionate about football as the people of Africa.” The new sponsorship is an extension of Standard Bank’s soccer involvement, which began in 2001 with the sponsorship of South African football giants, Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs. In partnership with MasterCard International, the bank also recently invited Brazilian football legend Pele to launch a new credit card, which aims to raise R50 million for football development in South Africa over the next 10 years. As part of the agreement, Standard Bank will be an official sponsor of the MTN Africa Cup of Nations to be held in Ghana in 2008. As an official sponsor of the 2006, 2007 and 2008 editions of the MTN CAF Champions League, the bank will demonstrate its long-term commitment to African football, and has secured an option to renew these sponsorships for a further agreeable period when they expire. A statement released by Standard Bank Namibia quoted CAF president Issa Hayatou as saying he was delighted with the coming in of the Bank to partner SPORTFIVE into the African football family. “This partnership could not have come at a better time than when we are in the threshold of hosting the first-ever football World Cup on African soil. Therefore, with a passionate partner like the Standard Bank Group, we can only continue to build the beautiful game to mobilise Africa to a force to be reckoned with,” read Hayatou’s statement. The Confederation of African Football, founded in 1957 in Khartoum, Sudan, represents international football in Africa. It organises the African Cup of Nations as well as the African Champions League. Today, the Confederation of African Football takes care of African football business in 53 countries, making it the largest continental confederation in FIFA. CAF is committed to the development and the promotion of football and African players. The MTN Africa Cup of Nations is the main international football competition for CAF nations. It has been held every two years since 1968. The West African country of Ghana will host the 2008 tournament. In the first African Cup of Nations in 1957, there were only three participating nations: Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia. Since then the field has grown to include almost every African nation, thus making it necessary to hold a qualifying tournament. Egypt has won the tournament five times, including this year; while Ghana and Cameroon have each won it four times. In Southern Africa only South Africa won it in 1996 and four SADC countries are bidding to host the 2010 edition, namely Namibia, Zimbabwe, Angola and Mozambique.