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George Weah backs Morocco’s bid for 2025 Afcon; headache looms in CAF

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Africa’s living football icon and Liberia’s President George Weah has expressed his country’s “full” and “strong” support for Morocco’s bid to host the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

The commitment came from a statement from Liberia’s state house at the weekend. With this, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) may have a difficult choice in February when the hosts of the Africa Cup of Nations 2025 will be announced.

With the on-going cold war between neighbours – Morocco and Algeria – which had seen the former being denied by the latter in participating in the on-going African Nations Championship, CAF may not want to award the competition to either to avert possible recurrence of denial of entry into one another’s territory.

It is almost inconceivable that one of them will fail the qualifying tests. But the voice of President George Weah is strong in African football.

“I have made this commitment to King Mohammed VI. It is cast in stone,” Liberia’s President remarked in a statement issued.

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Emphasizing Morocco and Liberia’s strong relations, Weah stressed his commitment to fully support Morocco. Demonstrating his loyalty, he announced that he has begun campaigning for Morocco with football stakeholders around the continent.

“I have made this commitment to King Mohammed VI. It is cast in stone,” he added, noting  Morocco’s historic World Cup run in Qatar.

Weah, who was a former professional football player, said Morocco brought “immense pride to Africa” during the 2022 World Cup.

In addition to Liberia, Botswana publicly expressed its support last year for Morocco’s bid to host AFCON.

“Morocco has made a bid to host the 2025 AFCON Men’s final, and Botswana will [give] them the support it needs to be successful,” Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi announced last year on Twitter.

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In October 2022, Morocco’s news agency MAP cited a source close to Morocco’s Football Federation (FRMF) confirming that the North African country intends to propose its candidacy to host the continental tournament.

Morocco has not hosted AFCON since 1988. In addition to Morocco, Algeria also confirmed last year its intention to submit its bid to host the tournament.

The decision came after the Confederation of African Football (CAF) withdrew the hosting rights from Guinea due to a lack of infrastructure and equipment in order for the country to host the competition.

It remains to be seen whether Algeria’s bid will secure support in Africa following the African Nations Championship (CHAN) controversy.

Algeria has deprived the Moroccan national football team of participating in CHAN after refusing to issue a permit that would allow the official carrier of the Atlas Lions to transport the squad directly from Rabat to Constantine to take part in the tournament.

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Algeria also politicized the competition after inviting Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Zwelivelile Mandela, who made hostile political remarks against Morocco to challenge its territorial integrity over its southern provinces in Western Sahara during CHAN’s opening ceremony.

Distancing itself from the political remarks, CAF said it opened an investigation into the political statement and racist comments made against Morocco and its citizens during the opening ceremony of CHAN.

Algeria, South Africa, Zambia and a joint bid form Benin-Nigeria are the other nations seeking to replace Guinea, who were stripped of hosting rights because of concerns over infrastructure and facilities.

Confederation of African Football (Caf) inspection teams are touring the bidding countries this month.

Findings will be submitted to the 24-member Caf executive committee which will announce the winner on 10 February.

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CAF president, Patrice Motsepe said the successful country or countries would offer the best “transport, logistics, hotels and beautiful stadiums”.

“Each region will have a chance to organise a CAN (Cup of Nations). We cannot assign the organisation of the CAN successively to the same region.”

With that statement, the joint bid of Nigeria and Benin appears dead on arrival as another West African country, Cote d’ivoire will host the preceeding edition meant for this year in 2014.

The pendulum therefore swings in favour of the Southern African region where South Africa and Zambia are the contestant.

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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