It may have become a season of losing hosting rights of CAF Competitions. Last year, Madagascar, home country of CAF president, Ahmad was stripped of the rights to host 2017 CAF U-17 Nations Cup by the then CAF president, Issa Hayatou.
Same year, Ahmad’s CAF Executive Committee stripped Kenya of the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) and offered it to Morocco.
At the weekend, Cameroon lost its hosting rights for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. The same bug might have caught up with Cote d’Ivoire which on January 24, 2014 was conferred with the rights for 2021 may have also lost its grip of the competition.
Sports Village Square gathered from Kenya’s Daily Nation that Cameroon will now host the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations after being stripped of the rights to host next year’s edition.
The publication monitored an interview of Ahmad on Pan African television channel, Afrique Media on Monday night.
According to Ahmad, Cameroon was stripped of the 2019 Afcon rights to avoid a repeat of 2010 where some players (from Togo) came under attack by Cabinda separatists in Angola besides delays in infrastructural preparations.
Gunmen attacked a bus transporting the Togolese national team to Angola for the 2010 tournament killing three people and wounding many others.
The attackers fired at the vehicle when it crossed from the Republic of Congo into Angola’s oil-rich enclave of Cabinda. Rebels who were fighting for the independence of the region later claimed responsibility for the attack.
Ahmad was quoted as saying that CAF paid dearly for the Cabinda incident and “can’t take that risk again” for Cameroon that is facing two major security threats; the Boko Haram insurgency in the Northern regions and an armed separatist movement in the two English speaking regions.
He said all 20 members of the CAF executive committee who were present in Accra, Ghana last Friday unanimously agreed that it was not possible to stage the 2019 tournament in Cameroon and asked the Central African country to continue preparations to host the 2021 edition because the initial hosts Cote d’Ivoire will not be ready by then.
“We have seen that Cote d’Ivoire will not be ready to host Afcon in 2021. So the Executive committee has confirmed Cameroon as host of 2021
“We have taken the decision for the good of African football on the basis of rules and regulations of the game in force,” Ahmad said promising CAF will be ready to defend its decision should Cameroon appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
No Africa Cup of Nations competition has taken place in originally designated host country since 2013. The stripping of Cote d’Ivoire of 2021 Africa Cup of Nations’ rights means that the competition will be having almost 10 years of unstable hosting.
According to Daily Nation of Kenya, Ahmad denied reports that the withdrawal of the 2019 Afcon hosting rights from Cameroon was an attempt to settle scores with his predecessor Issa Hayatou, saying he has never criticized the management of the continental soccer body during Hayatou’s reign.
Hayatou revoked the hosting rights of the 2017 U-17 Africa Cup of Nations from Ahmad’s Madagascar in the days leading to the 2017 CAF elections in Ethiopia.
“Even when journalists tried repeatedly to urge me to comment on his [Issa Hayatou] reign, I always avoided it and told them it was their role not mine. It is not possible that withdrawing Afcon 2019 from Cameroon implies I’m settling scores with my predecessor, a Cameroonian,” Ahmad stated.
The Cameroon government has said works on infrastructure will continue at the same pace despite the “surprising decision” by the continental football body.
“This decision is unmerited considering the resolve of the Head of State and the people of Cameroon to make all-out effort to host a remarkable celebration of African football in 2019,” Cameroon Communication Minister and government spokesperson, Issa Tchiroma Bakary said.
“Cameroon has put in a creditable performance. It shall prove it to the entire world by continuing with the same determination and completing the construction of these modern infrastructures belonging to the Cameroonian people on time, as pledged by the Head of State,” he promised.