11 years ago, a local South African newspaper cited an AFCON organizer who said that teams from Ghana, Congo, Mali, and Niger complained that women hindered their performance during the AFCON tournament. The organizer mentioned that some players believed women bring bad luck and are associated with witchcraft.
Over the years, the trend has gradually changed, with more and more women being used as influencers in the stadium. The most recent example is Ivana Knoll, the Croatian model who was labeled the sexiest fan of the Qatar World Cup, where Argentina was crowned champions. Ivana Knoll, a 28-year-old Croatian supporter, became an internet sensation during the 2018 World Cup. She was captured on camera celebrating her team’s victory against Argentina in the group stage, and her passionate celebration went viral.
This shift has influenced the trend of seeing many beautiful women flocking to stadiums to support their respective teams during the AFCON tournament. In 2018, women football supporters launched a campaign before the World Cup with the aim of changing the way that female fans are represented on the internet, and we can all agree that the campaign was successful.
Ivory Coast, being the hosts of the ongoing AFCON 2023, has received praise for how they have hosted the tournament; however, they are on the brink of elimination from Group A after losing their final group game to Equatorial Guinea by 4-0, placing them in 3rd position.
Despite the unfortunate result for the hosts, this AFCON will forever be remembered for breaking stereotypes against women and empowering them.