Soccer is arguably the most popular sport in Africa. Game time unites people often divided along religious or tribal lines. Just like in Europe, most African countries have their national soccer leagues. However, some are more successful than others. Success is relative and a list about successes can change drastically if the parameters for evaluation change.
For this list, we will consider revenue generation, sponsorship deals, league performance, and coverage. Another point we subtly considered was the inclusion of players from the local leagues in the national team.
Some leagues do well in one area but flop in others. Therefore, we expect that some of the entries on this list may shock you. That said, we bring to you the top 10 most successful African national soccer leagues.
Is there an African soccer league?
Just like there is the European league, many have been wondering if there is an African soccer league. Well, CAF listened and on launched the Africa Super League on 20 August 2022. The league will kick off in August 2023 in Tanzania with twenty-four elite teams in participation.
It is projected that the Africa Super League will generate revenue of over $100 million. CAF intends to use that revenue to improve infrastructure and stadiums across the continent. When the league kicks off, it will follow a promotion/relegation system.
10. Senegal Premier League
The Senegal premier league has been in existence since 1966 shortly after Senegal became an independent country. Therefore, it is one of the oldest leagues in Africa. At the end of every Senegal premier league season, the top three clubs will get to participate in continental competitions while the bottom three will relegate to a lower-level league like every other national league.
Senegal’s premier league continues to experience development in aspects that include but are not limited to an increase in the club’s stadium, players’ welfare, and higher player value in the transfer market. The league also hosts domestic cups such as the Senegal FA cup and the Senegalese League Cup
9. Ghana Premier League
Ghana premier league is one of the top professional national soccer leagues in Africa. The league was officially established in 1956 by the Ghana football association. Over the years, the Ghana premier league has experienced significant growth in every aspect.
Ghana premier league currently has 18 participating clubs and matches are broadcast live by Startimes. In terms of sponsorship, the Ghana premier league is sponsored by notable companies such as MTN, Puma, Nasco, and Startimes.
Ghana premier league was Africa’s strongest national soccer league in the 1st decade of the 21st century according to IFFHS.
8. MTN Ligue 1
Number eight on our list is the MTN Ligue 1 of Ivory Coast which has been in existence since 1960. The league is known for its quality players, standard facilities, and relentless leadership.
It also stands out in terms of performance producing quality players and highly competitive teams both at the local and continental levels. MTN Ligue 1 enjoys sponsorship deals with notable institutions such as FIFA, CAF, Puma, Abidjan, Parlym, Canal+, and many others.
7. South Africa Premiership Division
The South Africa premiership division is one of the top-flight national soccer leagues in Africa and the highest league in South Africa. The league has been in existence since 1996. The South Africa premiership produces quality players. It is also highly competitive.
South Africa premiership division, also known as ABSA premiership, enjoys good sponsorship deals. The name ABSA premiership is from its sponsor ABSA. It is also not lacking in terms of media coverage.
It currently has a mega deal TV rights with its country’s Supersport satellite. South Africa premiership division is currently the third richest national soccer league in Africa with a net valuation of £130.91 million (approx. $161. 66 million).
6. Nigeria Professional League
The Nigeria professional league is a top-flight domestic soccer league in Nigeria. The league has been in existence since 1972. It is one of the best and most successful national soccer leagues in Africa owning to its superb records, quality players, and sponsorship deals.
Over the years, the Nigeria Professional League has bred world-class soccer players and teams that have won many continental trophies and awards. In terms of TV rights, Supersport owns the broadcasting right of all Nigeria Professional Football League games. However, when it comes to sponsorship, NPFL is currently sponsored by Eunisell and Liga de Futbol
5. Botola Pro
Botola pro is the first-tier league in Morocco and also one of the most successful in Africa. The league has been in existence since 1956, soon after Morocco became an independent country. Botola Pro has produced eleven clubs and won six titles at the African national soccer level.
Due to its competitive nature, the league is currently the most viewed in Africa with an average of 92% stadium occupancy and the potential for two billion TV viewers. Botola Pro is currently the second richest national soccer league in Africa with a net valuation of £134.28 million (approx. $165.8 million).
4. Algerian Ligue Professionnelle 1
The Algerian Ligue Professionnelle 1 also known as Ligue 1 has been in existence since 1962, shortly after Algeria became independent. The league is one of the most successful and fastest-growing leagues in Africa.
It has excelled in player quality, match transparency, and competitive teams both at the continental and national levels. Algerian Ligue Professionelle 1 has produced eleven clubs with a total number of five titles won at the national club competitions.
In terms of sponsorship, Ligue 1 enjoys major sponsorship deals with Nedjma and ATM Mobilis since 2009. The league also enjoys broadcast deals from the likes of Algerian TV, Canal Algérie, Algeria 3&4, and Al-Kass Sports Channel in Qatar.
Algerian Ligue Professionnelle 1 is currently the fourth richest national soccer league in Africa with a net valuation of £82.31 million (approx. $101.64 million).
The Linafoot is a top-flight league in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and also one of the most successful African national soccer leagues. The league has been in existence since 1958.
At the African national soccer level, Linafoot has produced five clubs with six titles won. TP Mazemba, a club in the Linafoot league currently ranks third on the African soccer club ranking. The league also hosts domestic cups such as the Republic of Congo and Super Coupe du Congo.
2. Egyptian Premier League
As a result of the riot, all matches were played behind closed doors until late 2017. Playing behind closed doors did not affect the performance of the league. It’s still responsible for the current most valuable player in Africa, Ramadan Sohbi, as well as the highest-ranking soccer club in Africa, El Alhy.
Egyptian premier league currently ranks second and third in Africa all-time successful national soccer league list and CAF 5-year ranking list respectively. In terms of sponsorship, the Egyptian premier league has been experiencing quite a good number of sponsorship since 2005.
The Egyptian Premier League is the richest soccer league in Africa with a net valuation of £143.87 million (approx. $177.65 million).
1. Tunisia Ligue Professionnelle 1
Tunisia Ligue Professionelle 1 is the highest soccer league in Tunisia. It was created in 1921 by the Tunisia Football Federation (FTF). The league is currently the most successful national soccer league in Africa, according to CAF’s all-time nations rankings.
It produced five clubs with a total of six titles won at the continental level. Tunisia Ligue Professionelle is also the fifth richest national soccer league in Africa with a net valuation worth of £81.32 million (approx. $100.42) according to Sokka.
Esperance de Tunis, a club in the Tunisia Ligue Professionelle, was the champion of the CAF champions league in 2021 and second in the 2020 African national soccer club ranking. El Wataniya 1, El Wataniya 2, and Al-Kass sport are the primary broadcasters of the Tunisia Ligue Professionnelle 1.
Most African national soccer leagues are yet to gain a global audience. However, it is a gradual process and we believe some of the leagues in Africa will reach that summit. We would suggest that coaches of the respective African nations give players in the local leagues a chance to wear the national jersey.
Such a gesture will go a long way to motivate the players to put in their best. Sadly, most coaches favor players from international clubs over those playing locally when it is time to pick players for national assignments. Tell us, which African league deserves a spot on this list? Use the comment box below.
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