The government of Ghana has confirmed the receipt of a letter from the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to be on standby to host the next African Cup.
Youth and Sports Minister Mahama Ayariga told Citi News in an exclusive interview that the football governing body saw Ghana as one country with a potential to quickly host the showpiece.
But first, he dropped a strong hint that Morocco will not host the event.
“It is only today that I’m hearing of the formal refusal of morocco to budge on the issue of the date which means that CAF would definitely need to look at an alternate venue.”
Based on that, CAF started quickly contacting nations they see fit to step in.
“CAF wrote to us a few days ago actually and indicated that Morocco had given strong indications that they will pull out if CAF did not change the date.
“And CAF also indicated that it was firm on those dates but they will meet the Moroccan authorities and take a decision at that meeting.
“But in the meantime they are writing to a number of countries that they think have the capacity to be an alternative venue…in the event of Morocco actually pulling out,” the minister told Citi Prime News on Thursday.
The minister confirmed says the CAF letter came through the Ghana Football Association, and it also said that other countries were being considered.
To be clear: Ghana sports minister won’t confirm Morocco pullout but says CAF are looking for Plan Bs continent-wide. Ghana is among faves.
— Gary Al-Smith (@garyalsmith) October 16, 2014
What will make Ghana host it?
Morocco requested CAF to postpone the tournament which was set for January next year, due to the Ebola epidemic, which CAF has turned a blind eye to.
Ayariga says should Ghana choose to host, there would be two key considerations.
“I have been looking at the two key issues involved. One, the cost of hosting it and secondly, the very health issues that is making Morocco to renege on the commitment they made to CAF.”
Sources say that such an emergency hosting will cost Ghana about $10 million.
[contextly_sidebar id=”RkHCpXhfayBbiGEeHPq7HIM09jmyX1QD”]But Ghanaians have been voicing immense displeasure at the very prospect of taking the next Afcon, which many see as a poisoned chalice.
Why is Ghana even thinking of Afcon?
Ayariga told Citi Sports’ Gary Al-Smith that Ghana’s government are sensitive to fears about the country’s readiness and will leave nothing to chance.
“That is why we are evaluating the request. Guinea is a country that has a problem with Ebola. Morocco hosted Ghana tro play Guinea in Casablanca. Guinea came to Ghana and played here yesterday.
“Sierra Leone is a country is a country that has a problem with Ebola and they were also in Cameroon. And so I think that we need to look at it in terms of the health issues and in terms of the financial implications too.”
Earlier reports also said that South African Football Association (SAFA) president Danny Jordaan is set to meet with the CAF boss Issa Hayatou to discuss a way forward as South Africa is set to replace the North African giants.
South Africa again?
SAFA spokesperson Dominic Chimhavi had also said on Wednesday that a decision is not final regarding the matter.
Chimhavi also hinted that South Africa is just being considered as a possible replacement, should the royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) confirm their withdrawal.
“I can’t say we are going to host the tournament again next year,” Chimhavi told South African outlet Sport24.
“This is what is happening, as we know that Morocco had requested to withdraw from hosting the tournament due to the widespread of a deadly Ebola virus.
“CAF just voiced South Africa as a possible destination to this challenge. But there are still lot of things to be considered before a final decision can be made.
“The president (Jordaan) and the NEC members will have a meeting to discuss a way forward regarding this, but CAF is considering South Africa because we are always ready to host major sporting events.
“We have the best infrastructure in the country but nothing has been confirmed.”
South Africa hosted the previous tournament in 2013 after being involved in a swap deal with Libya due to the political instabilities in their country, which led to the assassination of their President Maummar Gaddafi in 2011.
Initially, South African was supposed to host the competition in 2017.
By: Gary Al-Smith/citifmonline.com/Ghana