Egypt seeks to host 2019 African Cup of Nations
LONDON - Egypt is seeking to replace Cameroon as host of the 2019 African Cup of Nations football tournament, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) said. South Africa has also put forward a bid to host the tournament. CAF is to decide between the two bids at a January 9 meeting.
CAF announced it was removing Cameroon from hosting the event, citing infrastructural delays and security risks. Morocco had initially said it would be ready to take over hosting duties from Cameroon but did not offer a bid, leaving the choice between Egypt and South Africa.
CAF President Ahmad Ahmad said the decision to remove Cameroon’s hosting rights involved the governing body not wanting to see a repeat of events that occurred during the 2010 tournament in Angola, during which players were attacked by separatists and three people were killed when the Togo team bus was fired at.
Cameroon is facing a difficult security situation amid threats from Boko Haram militants and the presence of another armed separatist movement in the country. “CAF can’t take that risk again,” Ahmad told the Afrique Media television channel.
Both Egypt and South Africa have a long history of hosting the tournament with football facilities already in place.
South Africa hosted the African Cup of Nations finals in 1996 and 2013 and it has also hosted the FIFA World Cup in 2010. Egypt hosted the African Cup of Nations tournament in 1959, 1974, 1986 and 2006.
Egypt and South Africa would have just five months to put preparations in place to host the tournament, which has been increased from 16 to 24 teams.
Egypt secured its place at the 2019 African Cup of Nations after beating Swaziland 2-0 in October. South Africa has yet to secure its place for the competition, with a final qualifier set for March. Traditionally, the host nation is given automatic qualification into the event.
Many Egyptians took to social media to back their country’s bid to host the tournament, but others raised questions whether Cairo was capable of organising the tournament, particularly as fans have only recently been allowed back into stadiums following the 2012 Port Said Stadium riot, in which 74 people died and hundreds of others were injured.
Until earlier this season, Egyptian Premier League games were played behind closed doors with no or minimal fan presence.