The Confederation of African Football (Caf) maintains that the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals will go on as scheduled between January 17 and February 8.
The continental football governing body has also asked the Royal Moroccan Football Federation- as well as other affiliate National Associations able to meet requirements and willing to host the tournament on the agreed dates- “to clarify their final positions not later than November 8”.
Following its Executive Committee (ExCo) meeting in Algiers on Sunday, Caf took the request of the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Morocco for postponement of the finals due to fear about the Ebola virus into consideration.
Caf said it has acted in strict adherence with recommendations by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the hosting of football matches since the recent outbreak of the hemorrhagic fever and that it has organised, since April, competitions across the continent without cases of the virus transmission related to football matches.
“This was enforced through a circular dated 12 August 2014 which sanctioned the suspension of all CAF competitions in countries heavily affected by the disease; Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, so as to prevent holding football matches that could result in mass gatherings and could facilitate the spread of the virus,” Caf said in a statement.
All National football associations of Caf were also advised to comply with health protocols prescribed by the WHO, both from countries affected by the Ebola virus and on arrival in countries hosting matches.
As a result, a CAF medical expert was present in Abidjan to test Sierra Leonean delegates on arrival in the Ivory Coast capital for a Match Day one fixture of the final phase qualifier in September. And that there has not been any reported issue since DR Congo agreed to host the Sierra Leonean team in their territory.
Caf added: “Of the three countries where the epidemic is prevalent, only Guinea retains a chance of qualifying for the final tournament of the Orange AFCON 2015. In addition, Guinea hosts its home games in Casablanca and has adhered to a strict health protocol implemented by Morocco that has so far showed no flaws.”
Caf says it has confidence in the health system in place in Morocco, where there has not been any recorded outbreak of the disease, ahead of the 2014 Fifa Club World Cup and Afcon 2015, both billed for the North African nation.
“Any change in the timing of events would be detrimental to the rest of the agenda, including the African Nations Championship (CHAN) scheduled for January 2016 in Rwanda, and that CAF will also maintain at the same dates,” Caf explained.
“CAF also has the urgent need to respect the international calendar as established by FIFA, allowing it to secure the release of players from foreign clubs as these players represent a majority of members within the African teams and helps African football shine.”
Caf will therefore make “necessary decision” concerning Afcon 2015 at its ExCo meeting slated for 11 November in Cairo.