BY DAVID DIAMOND.
The South African Football Association (SAFA) have claimed the manner in which the Confederation of African Football (CAF) awarded the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations to Egypt was “unprocedural and unfair”.
South Africa and Egypt had both put themselves forward to host the tournament after CAF stripped original hosts Cameroon of the event citing serious delays in their preparations.
Egypt were named as the new host following a vote by CAF’s Executive Committee on Tuesday (January 8), but SAFA has now officially complained, saying due process was not applied.
The body claim they were never told that CAF’s crucial Committee meeting – originally scheduled for Wednesday (January 9) – had been moved forward by a day and that no inspection team was ever sent to South Africa to assess their facilities.
“We were previously advised that CAF would make a formal announcement on the 9th of January 2019‚ and we arranged for a delegation from Government to be present‚ only to learn last night [Monday] – unofficially – that CAF will make an announcement today at 08h30 GMT,” their chief executive Russell Paul said at the time.
“We are yet to receive any official announcement in this regard.”
According to reports, SAFA has now written a formal letter of complaint to CAF, which Inside World Football claim reminds the continental body that bid rules call for the “evaluation of bid books‚ pre-selected applicants’ announcement‚ possible requests for additional information and possible on-site visits”.
SAFA chief Paul has claimed, however, no inspection team was ever sent to South Africa.
“That gives an indication of on what basis did they evaluate‚ by their own procedures?” Inside World Football quote him as saying.
“The other aspect is that we don’t know‚ up until now‚ the reason for the move from the ninth to the eighth.
“When you consider that we had actually set up a delegation to go there for the ninth‚ and the Egyptians had already been there for a few days with their government delegation and their media‚ prepared to make a bid presentation.
“We were never advised officially.
“We just got this by the grapevine.”
“FIFA did a World Cup analysis [for 2010], South Africa was number one and Egypt was last.
“Fundamentally, nothing has changed.”
In response to SAFA’s complaints, President of CAF Ahmad has claimed a lack of any Government support for South Africa’s bid was what cost the country.
According to the Nigerian news website Today, speaking in Dakar, Ahmad said both country’s have equally good infrastructure but Egypt’s greater “political commitment” gave them the edge to host the tournament between June 15 and July 13.
“Our audit firm said the infrastructure was equal, so we assessed the political commitment in the two countries, and Egypt came out on top,” he said.
“Members of the [CAF] Executive Committee did not feel any real support from the South African Government to carry the project forward.”
Agence France-Presse also reported that South Africa’s decision to back the North American bid for the 2026 FIFA World Cup ahead of Morocco, “infuriated” Ahmad and other senior CAF officials.
That, therefore, may have had an impact on their bid defeat.
“South Africa voting for the USA, especially after president Donald Trump had publicly criticised the people of the continent [of Africa], was seen as anti-African,” they quote an unnamed CAF official as saying.