CAF Stadium Requirements for Hosting AFCON Matches

Each country looking to host the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) must meet several CAF stadium requirements. 

These requirements are designed to ensure that AFCON matches are played in venues that meet various standards for international football competitions. 

Some stadium requirements a host nation must meet include:

  • The number of stadiums to be used
  • Stadium capacities as recommended by CAF stadiums
  • Standards of Stadium amenities, and more. 

Below is a detailed look at all of these requirements. 

How Many Stadiums Are Needed for AFCON?

A country needs six stadiums to host the AFCON competition. The six stadiums are to cater to all the 24 teams participating in the competition. 

The stadiums can be shared between countries if they are co-hosting the tournament. 

For example, if two countries are hosting the competition, each can have at least three stadiums – thus satisfying the CAF requirement for six stadiums. 

Likewise, three countries hosting the Africa Cup of Nations can have at least two stadiums each. This is expected to be the case with the 2027 AFCON edition, which Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda will host jointly.

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You can see the progress of stadiums that will host AFCON 2027 in East Africa.

What Is the Required Capacity for AFCON Stadiums? 

It is not enough for the host nation(s) to have six stadiums for the AFCON competition. Each venue must meet the CAF stadium’s capacity requirements, or they will not be eligible. 

Per CAF requirements, two of the stadiums must have a capacity of at least 40,000 spectators. These are used for the opening and the final AFCON matches. 

In addition, two other stadiums must have at least 20,000 seats; these are used for the knock-out stage matches. 

Lastly, the remaining two stadiums must have a capacity of at least 15,000 (these are used for hosting group-stage matches). 

Can AFCON Be Played on Artificial Turf?

Nakivubo Stadium in Uganda
Nakivubo Stadium in Uganda has artificial turf. Image: Twitter/KiggunduHamis

The playing surface is another of the top CAF stadium requirements that host nations must meet. 

According to CAF regulations, AFCON matches can be played on natural, artificial, or hybrid (both natural and artificial) turf. However, where artificial turf is used, the material must meet the existing FIFA regulations. 

Natural grass is the most popular playing surface in most competitions. However, AFCON matches have been played in stadiums with artificial turf on some occasions. 

What Amenities Are Required in Each CAF stadium During AFCON?

The CAF-approved stadiums used during the AFCON competition must have several amenities. Below is a look at some of them:

1. Drainage and Sprinklers

One of the key amenities for AFCON stadiums is good drainage and a sprinkler watering system. The drainage helps to prevent flooding, thus ensuring that a stadium can still be played in even during rainy conditions. 

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On the other hand, sprinklers help to keep natural grass in optimal playing conditions. In addition, sprinklers are used to water artificial turf, thus keeping it cool during hot weather. 

2. Dressing Rooms

CAF stadiums must have dressing rooms for the two teams competing and the match officials. In addition, the dressing rooms must be equipped with necessary facilities like: 

  • Showers (and hot water)
  • Toilets
  • Urinals
  • Seats and lockers
  • Bathroom sinks
  • Good ventilation or air conditioning
  • Tactical boards and more 

3. Lighting

Stadiums used to host AFCON competitions must have floodlights.

The lighting is used for matches played at night or to improve picture quality during TV coverage. 

4. Substitute Benches and a Warm-up Area

Each CAF-approved stadium that hosts AFCON matches must have a covered bench for each of the team’s substitutes and a technical bench. 

In addition, the stadium must have a warm-up area for substitutes, which can be along the touchline or behind the goalposts. 

5. Media Areas

AFCON stadiums should have media areas that can be used to cover and broadcast matches. 

These areas must also have amenities like a camera platform, TV & radio commentary positions, and a media room. 

6. Medical Facilities  

Stadiums that host AFCON matches must have medical facilities, including a first aid treatment room for players and officials.

In addition, stadiums must have necessary medical equipment, including: 

  • Cardiac monitor 
  • Oxygen supply 
  • Stretchers
  • Defibrillators
  • Ambulances, and more. 

7. Public Address System and Giant Screens

Stadiums used for AFCON matches must have a public address system that covers the inside and outside of the stadium. 

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In addition, they should have a giant screen(s) that offers optimal viewing to all spectators. 

8. Spectator Amenities

CAF stadiums used to host AFCON must also be equipped with various amenities for the well-being of spectators. These include: 

  • Individual seats
  • Refreshment and catering facilities
  • Toilets and urinals (for both sexes) equipped with flushers, sinks, toilet paper, soap, and other sanitary products. 
  • First aid facilities 
  • Special facilities for people with disabilities
  • VIP and VVIP seating areas

Other CAF Stadium Requirements for Countries Hosting AFCON

Apart from the stadiums, CAF has several other requirements that host nations must meet. These include: 

1. Training Grounds 

Bafana Bafana in training for a match in the 2024 AFCON tournament
Bafana Bafana in training for a match in the 2024 AFCON tournament. Image: X/bafanabafana

CAF requires that a host nation provide at least three training facilities adjacent to each stadium used for AFCON matches.

In addition, the training ground must have the necessary facilities like: 

  • A smooth playing surface 
  • A dressing room with seats, lockers, showers, toilets, sinks, and urinals. 
  • Floodlights 
  • A bench area with seats for players and team officials 
  • Movable goals 
  • Secured fencing, entrances, and exits. 

2. Accommodation

Each stadium used to host AFCON matches must be adjacent to sufficient accommodation facilities.

These include at least one five-star hotel, other hotels, and guest houses. 

3. Transportation 

Host nations must provide good transport infrastructure near CAF-approved stadiums to allow for easy movement of teams, spectators, and other visitors.

This includes at least one airport, good roads, and other infrastructure facilities like trains. 

4. Access to a Hospital

CAF also requires that each stadium used for AFCON matches be close to at least one level-five hospital. 

This is to allow for sufficient medical access to players, officials, and spectators in the event of an emergency. 

The above are some key CAF stadium requirements that nations must meet when hosting the AFCON tournament.

These requirements help ensure that the participating teams and spectators have a great time, thus improving the competition’s prestige. 

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