The first in our series of articles looking at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON 2015) considers whether the tournament will actually go ahead. Dylan Russell reports.
The African Cup of Nations is an iconic competition, although seen as a nuisance to clubs in Europe with African players, the tournament holds great significance and emotional attachment for players and fans alike. In a continent riddled with poverty, disease and violence problems are always present when organising the tournament, but this year the organisers are faced with a massive issue as Ebola continues to ravage West Africa.
Morocco, the hosts of AFCON 2015 are urging The Confederation of African Football (CAF) to call off the tournament and are wanting to pull out of hosting the event altogether if it is not indeed called off. The sports minister Mohamed Ouzzine attempted to calm media speculation and set the record straight:
“Our concern is the health of Africa and, based on WHO reports and guidelines, we have to listen,”.
“We are talking about the Africa Cup of Nations where we are expecting between 200,000 and 400,000, even one million spectators to converge in Morocco. I don’t think there is any state or any country that has the necessary capabilities to monitor, check and control the current Ebola situation when faced with these numbers.
“This is our real problem. We don’t have a problem with visiting teams, we have a problem with visitors.”
“If there are fears about the loss of funding and financial commitments, we can always find solutions to these issues – but today is not the day to discuss these things.
“We will discuss these things when we meet with CAF– and we might even debate other options. But I beg you, what’s the significance of the financial losses compared to human losses? A human being is priceless. I can tell you that we will reach a definite decision during our meeting with our brothers from CAF.”
CAF have already made moves to line up a replacement; South Africa, Egypt and Sudan were all keen on taking over hosting the tournament but CAF have approached Ghana to consider taking over the responsibility of hosting the tournament. An approach they are considering.
Whatever the outcome to this debacle, CAF has to be 100% sure that they are not putting hundreds of thousands if not millions of lives at risk by not calling off the tournament. The call to postpone the tournament is one that would be backed by clubs in Europe who are concerned about their players health and well-being.
Should AFCON 2015 be moved or cancelled? Are European clubs right to consider the tournament an inconvienience? Who will win AFCON 2015? Let us know your thoughts below or on Twitter @90MinuteCynic.