Morocco will not host the 2015 Africa Cup of nations, it has emerged. Instead, the country has asked for the tournament to be shifted to 2016 to prevent the possible spread of the Ebola virus disease that has ravaged three countries in west Africa.
It is evident that CAF will now need to shop for new hosts, less than two months to the start of the tournament on January 17, 2015.
In a press release by the sports minister Mohammed Ouzzine, Morocco maintained its call for the tournament to be postponed to 2016, while the next tournament would hold in 2017 to enable it return to its regular odd year format.
Morocco suggested that it could be done since CAF held back-to-back tournaments in 2012 and 2013, when it was shifted to the odd year.
During a parliamentary session on Tuesday, Morocco’s sports minister was quoted as saying: “The Kingdom has no intention of giving in to the injunctions of CAF because the health risk is too large.”
Surely embarrassed by this last minute change, CAF is expected to meet on November 11 where it would announce replacement hosts for the tournament.
While South Africa and Ghana have opted against hosting the tournament, Goal exclusively reported that Nigeria were interested a fortnight ago.
Reports also indicate that 2010 hosts, Angola, could be a possible option.
CAF would also decide on punishment for Morocco’s late no show which would be seen as a betrayal of trust seeing that the country would host the FIFA Club World Cup next month.
The World Health Organization has not expressly ruled out large gatherings as against what the Moroccan authorities have put out.
Morocco’s football will be the poorer as it is expected to be banned for four years from all continental competitions as well as the payment of a huge fine.
The final round of qualifying matches for the 2015 AFCON will take place on November 15 and 19 across the continent while CAF has already asked interested media to apply for accreditation to cover the tournament.