Hosting Afcon 2015 is a no-no

2014-10-20 15:08

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South Africa is not ready to host the Africa Cup of Nations in January if Morocco withdraws because of the Ebola epidemic, Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula has said.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has reportedly approached South Africa, Ghana and five other countries ahead of a November 2 meeting to decide on the future of the continent’s premier football event.

But the minister tweeted: “Hosting Afcon is a no-no.”

He told the media that the country had a responsibility to help fight to help fight the Ebola epidemic that has killed more than 4 500 people, mainly in West Africa, with the United Nations predicting a surge in deaths and cases.

“Even before taking the matter to Cabinet I can tell you unambiguously and categorically that hosting is a no-no,” he said.

“We do not have a ready-made abundance of resources to be shifted to Afcon.

“We did it [host the 2013 Afcon] in solidarity with Libya last year. Our budget cycle will not allow us to host the [2015] Afcon. It is totally impossible.

“We would like to give this one a pass.”

Mbalula added: “We will share the responsibility to fight Ebola – we are not immune to that.

“We must be prepared to share our skills, our doctors, to reinforce the research to find a vaccine.”

South Africa were among seven countries sounded out by the CAF as possible replacements should Morocco pull out.

The country has twice been “emergency” hosts of the competition, replacing cash-strapped Kenya in 1996 and strife-torn Libya last year.

South Africa has world-class stadiums having become the first African hosts of the World Cup four years ago.

Moroccan government officials said last weekend they wanted the January 17 to February 8 tournament postponed because they feared a spread of the deadly Ebola virus.

But CAF reacted swiftly, saying the 16-nation tournament should go ahead as planned, in a different country if necessary.

Should Morocco withdraw and more than one country offered to be take over as hosts, a draw would decide who stages the three-week African football showpiece.

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