President of the Confederation of African Football (Caf) Issa Hayatou says the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) was never going to be rescheduled because of the credibility of the competition.
The biennial championship is the continent’s showpiece football event, and never has an edition been postponed or canceled since its inception in 1957, despite the geopolitical challenges facing the continent.
The Caf Executive Committee (ExCo), at a meeting on Tuesday, decided that next year’s tournament will neither take place nor include Morocco following the Fédération Royale Marocaine de Football (FRMF) refusal to host on agreed dates of January 17 to February 8 due to its fear over the Ebola outbreak.
“It is impossible (to postpone the tournament) for reasons you know,” Hayatou told France 24 in an exclusive interview.
“Once you postpone this event, it will open the door for everybody to ask for a delay of any competition and we will no longer be credible and cannot organise anything.
“We will hurt our sponsors and partners. We cannot sign our death warrant, because if we postpone this event, it will be very deadly for African football.”
The Caf chief is determined that the tournament will stay in Africa and acknowledged that they have received “a few requests from some African federations”.
Egypt, which has been mentioned over the last 24 hours, has stated it will not host the tournament for “economic and political reasons.” 2012 co-hosts, Gabon, have also been touted as potential host. Recent reports suggests Angola have also ruled themselves out of contention, along with 2008 and 2013 hosts Ghana and South Africa respectively.
Nigeria’s Presidential election, set for a week after the tournament, is one factor that has negated the 2009 Fifa Under-17 World Cup hosts’ choice as a prospective candidate.
Hayatou however revealed the new hosts will be named in “two or three days”.
Morocco has retained its hosting right for the 2014 Fifa Club World Cup slated for December 10 to 20 this year, because the competition attracts a relatively moderate influx of international supporters.
Not less than 4,960 people had reportedly died from Ebola, mainly in the West African countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.
Explaining the motive behind Caf’s decision, Hayatou said: “Of course, they said the reason was Ebola. But when we see also that Morocco is in the process of organizing the FIFA Club World Cup, only 25 days before the Africa Cup of Nations, you understand that this is an argument that must be quickly erased.”