Turmoil returns for African football's showpiece

Source: Xinhua| 2018-12-04 09:47:12|Editor: ZD
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NAIROBI, Dec. 3 (Xinhua) -- In just over two decades, Confederation of African Football (CAF) has made six last-minute changes of host in its premier competition, the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

Cameroon, who lost the rights to stage the 2019 edition, the first to be staged in July away from the traditional January period, becomes the seventh to be stripped of the organizational honor.

CAF is yet to make a decision on where the 2019 showpiece will be held. Morocco and South Africa are touted to host the biennial championship with CAF having approached the latter to host the event which will be expanded to 24 teams for the first time ever.

"This decision, without appeal, will mean that CAF will now initiate an open and urgent call for new host country bids to ensure AFCON 2019 takes place next summer. CAF will ensure that a new host is in place by Dec. 31, 2018, and it will communicate openly and transparently on the process and subsequent decision," CAF said in a statement.

In 1996, all eyes were on Kenya to return to the Africa Cup of Nations albeit as hosts. But they lost the hosting rights because the country was not ready. Playing facilities were found to be below standard.

A similar scenario was experienced in January, when Morocco was nominated to replace Kenya in hosting the 2018 African Nations Championships, a tournament for only local based players plying their trade in their country of birth.

Libya lost the host rights to Gabon for the 2017 edition of the tournament as civil unrest led to delay in construction of new stadiums, and Gabon went on to host the 16-team tournament that was won by Cameroon who beat Egypt 2-1 in the final.

Back in 2000 Zimbabwe's spirited efforts to convince CAF to stage the tournament were thwarted. Zimbabwe lost the finals because of the slow pace of construction of new stadiums as well as the lack of financial guarantees from the government.