Monday, October 13, 2014

Despite Morocco's Pleas African Football has no plans to postpone Africa Cup

Casablanca Football Stadium
Despite Morocco's call for the African Cup of Nations (CAN 2015) to be postponed because of the Ebola epidemic, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) says it has has no plans to postpone the tournament scheduled from January in Morocco.  However, further discussions on the subject will be held in early November.

In the meantime the competition is still scheduled from January 17 to February 8, says CAF, "The FCA posted the request and confirms that no changes to the agenda of the schedule of competitions and events. It should be noted that since the first edition in 1957, the Africa Cup of Nations has never been deferred. "

The Moroccan Ministry of Youth and Sports had sent a request to postpone the competition as a precaution, while the virus has killed more than 4,000 deaths in West Africa. CAF believes to have been sufficiently conservative on the subject, including the prohibition in August matches in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the country most affected by the epidemic. "The CAF is aware of the health risks posed by Ebola virus and has consistently applied the precautionary principle, taking into consideration the recommendations of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and various medical experts".

Discussions in November

The Confederation of African Football, however, does not close the door to discussions. The subject will be discussed at the Executive Committee of CAF on November 2 in Algiers. And discussions will take place in Rabat on November 3 with the Moroccan authorities. The end of qualifying for the CAN 2015 is scheduled on November 19. The draw for the finals to take place on November 26. Postponement or cancellation of the tournament would be much more detrimental to CAF than for Morocco. CAN is the main source of income of African football. For Morocco however, this year 2015 is a step towards the organisation of the most prestigious competitions (World Athletics Championships, FIFA World Cup, etc.) than an end in itself.

Four scenarios emerge: a full maintenance of the tournament dates and locations or relocation to another country (only South Africa would be credible), Change dates to June 2015 or January 2016 or (very unlikely) cancellation of the tournament. CAF is already facing another problem: finding a replacement for Libya, which withdrew from the organisation of the CAN 2017 tournament due to for security issues.

Hussein El Ouardi (pictured above), Minister of Health of Morocco, had this to say: "I am organising the Cup, and estimate that we would have to expect the arrival of hundreds of thousands of spectators. Taking into account the precautionary principle, the Department of Health asked the Moroccan government to postpone, if possible, the 2015 CAN.  This decision was based on the recommendations of the World Health Organisation, but also by decisions taken by other countries. Senegal has decided to close its borders for months, France has decided not to serve these three countries (Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia) with air services, Saudi Arabia banned the Hajj for the three countries this year. Morocco determined to protect the health of its citizens. This is the top priority of the Department of Health."

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