A group of self-proclaimed Atlanta soccer fanatics have formed All Soccer Africa LLC to offer sports fans the first online fantasy soccer league based on the African Cup of Nations.
The African Cup is a soccer tournament held every two years between the national teams of 16 African countries. All Soccer Africa’s fantasy league allows fans to form their own teams of African players and follow the tournament’s progress with match updates and player statistics.
As the Internet has grown, fantasy leagues have extended to nearly every sport, though none has been created for fans of Africa’s intracontinental soccer tournament, according to Hana Njau-Okolo, one of All Soccer Africa’s founders.
Dennis Okolo, president of All Soccer Africa, told GlobalAtlanta that the company created the fantasy league to get fans involved with a series underserved by the other media outlets in America.
“As big soccer fans, we follow all the major leagues around the world and the one thing that was quite apparent was the abundance of African talents in all the leagues,” he said, adding that the lack of a fantasy league centered on the African Cup left a market untapped by large fantasy sports providers such as ESPN Internet Ventures and Yahoo Inc.
Mr. Okolo also said that Atlanta’s growing African-American population provides a local market that can be used to start what he hopes will become a worldwide community of soccer fans.
League subscribers will choose players from each of the 16 national teams in the competition and win points depending on their players’ performance in each cup match.
The fantasy league has a $20 entry fee, but this could be turned into a good investment. Group winners will receive $1,000, while the overall winner of the tournament will win $15,000. Smaller cash and merchandise prizes will go to second- through fifth-place winners.
Brighton, United Kingdom-based Silentworld Ltd., a Web development company specializing in fantasy sports, is providing software to build the league. The company has built leagues for video game developer Electronic Arts Inc. and automobile manufacturer Volvo Car Corp.
Mr. Okolo hopes that the fantasy league, launched Jan. 4, is the first step in establishing AllSoccerAfrica.com as a top source of information for African soccer tournaments and African players in international leagues.
“Our emphasis is on the African game, and that said, we intend to cover all the major tournaments for the average soccer fan,” he said.
Mr. Okolo added that he ultimately hopes to provide live coverage of African league matches, allowing members of the African diaspora in Atlanta and worldwide to follow the sport in real time.
He also said that he is supporting Mali in the tournament, an underdog that Mr. Okolo expects will provide competition to traditional soccer powerhouses. He added that he would support his native Nigeria, a nation with two African cups under its belt, if Mali is eliminated.
Ms. Njau-Okolo called soccer a “unifying force,” saying mass devotion to soccer can promote peace on the continent. Though her native Kenya did not qualify for the tournament, she said that the games would have a pacifying effect on the country, which has been experiencing unrest due to alleged corruption in a Dec. 27 presidential election.
Anyone interested in competing in the fantasy league can register at All Soccer Africa’s Web site.