Cameroon have been stripped of hosting next year’s Africa Cup of Nations, says the Confederation of African Football.
African football’s governing body (Caf) says it is because of delays in the progress of Cameroon’s preparation for the tournament, due to start in June.
Officials made the decision at a meeting on Friday in Accra, Ghana, that lasted more than 10 hours.
Caf president Ahmad Ahmad says it will work to “determine a new organising country by the end of the year”.
In a statement, Caf said “a number of compliance conditions have not been met” and it did not want to expose the Africa Cup of Nations to “any issues that could impact on the success of the most prestigious African competition”.
Caf added postponing the tournament was not possible due to contractual commitments.
The tournament is set to be the first held in June and July and will be expanded from 16 to 24 teams.
Ahmad said last year that Cameroon still needed “to convince Caf of its ability” to host the event, with the country playing down fears sanctions would be imposed if preparations were deemed to be behind schedule.
How it all started
Cameroon secured the hosting right of the competition under for CAF Executives led by Issa Hayatou on 20th of september 2014, after the country dumped out other bidding nations like Algeria, CIV and Guinea.
African football governing body further announced CIV as host for 2021, while Guinea will host 2023. The announcement sparked row between the Anglophones and Francophones country of the body but Hayatou suppressed all the tensions.
Cameroon’s hosting of African football’s showpiece event has been in jeopardy for months since the decision to increase the tournament from 16 to 24 teams.
Roughly 20% of the country’s population of 24.6 million people are Anglophone. The majority are Francophone. The unfair domination of French-speaking politicians in government has long been the source of conflict.
Two of the proposed stadia are situated in the troubled areas, Limbe and Roumde.
Reports of the Organising Committee:
Two reports that were central to the final decision regarding Cameroon were to be tabled namely; report of inspection visits of the security committee from October 27 to November 1 as well as a report of the inspection visit from November 11-15.
In October, Caf President Ahmad Ahmad visited Yaounde for a meeting with Cameroon President Paul Biya just days after Caf deferred the final decision on the hosting of next year’s Afcon.
At that time, a report by the last inspection team to Cameroon revealed “a significant delay as far as the delivery of infrastructure is concerned.
After consideration that postponement of 2019 AFCON was impossible because of CAF’s contractual commitments,& the importance of maintaining competition calendar,CAF Executive Committee decided that the next edition of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations could not be held in Cameroon.
CAF reiterated that Cameroon remains a serious candidate to organize a future edition of AFCON, and acknowledges that Cameroon has mobilized significant resources and worked tirelessly to host AFCON 2019.
Cameroon will not be first country to lose rights to stage Africa biggest football competition.
Morocco hosted 1988 edition when Zambia was stripped, Kenya lost hosting right in 1996 to South Africa, Libya was stripped due to political unrest in 2013 and South Africa staged the tournament. Morocco rejected the competition in 2015 due to Ebola breakout in some part of Africa and Equatorial Guinea hosted the tourney. Libya also failed to host the event in 2017 and was held in Gabon.
Caf will now give a one month window where countries interested in hosting the tournament will submit their official bids.
Morocco, who unsuccessfully bid for the 2026 Fifa World Cup, are likely to replace Cameroon as hosts. South Africa, hosts of the 2010 World Cup, could also be considered.
REPORTS FROM MULTIPLE SOURCES.