Nigeria has lost the joint bid with the Benin Republic to host the African Cup of Nations in 2025 to Morocco while Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania are named joint hosts of the 2027 tournament.
The winners were announced on Tuesday after voting session by members of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) committee led by its president, Patrice Motsepe at Cairo Marriott Hotel in Zamalek area of downtown Cairo.
Morrocco won by 22 votes, with their challengers, including Algeria, getting no vote who is reported to have withdraw a few months ago.
The president of the Algerian Football Federation announced his country’s withdrawal from the race on the eve of the vote with CAF rejecting the approach.
This is the first time Morocco will be hosting AFCON since they first did in 1988 when they finished in fourth position with CAF’s decision to pick Morocco is not surprising going by the country’s heavy investments in sporting infrastructure in the last 20 years.
Morocco boasts many world-class stadiums and have successfully hosted numerous African and world football tournaments and has been a preferred destination for football tournaments lately with the Women’s AFCON and the U-23 AFCON all taking place in the country.
It will be recalled that CAF needed a new host for 2025 after Guinea was stripped of the rights in October last year due to fears about the readiness of facilities.
No vote was required as a joint bid from Nigeria and Benin, as well as candidacies from Algeria and Zambia, were all withdrawn leaving Morocco as the only contender.
It means the North African country is on track to stage the tournament for the second time after first doing so in 1988.
Morocco has unsuccessfully bid for the FIFA World Cup five times and the North African nation will see the decision as a boost to their hopes of co-hosting the 2030 World Cup with Portugal and Spain.
Officials from both CAF and FIFA have hailed the quality of Morocco’s football infrastructure and accommodation facilities, stressing that the North African country has what it takes to host prestigious sporting events, including AFCON.
Hailing Morocco’s potential to be a respectable host of international tournaments, FIFA President said last year that Morocco is a great country not only for football but also as a country that knows how to organize major events.
“It is a candidacy which unites the two shores of the Mediterranean and reflects the ambitions and aspirations of the peoples of the region for further cooperation, interaction, and understanding,” King Mohammed VI said of the joint World Cup bid in a speech last July.
Prior to the voting, Motsepe had said the successful replacement for Guinea would offer the best “transport, logistics, hotels and beautiful stadiums”.
“Each region will have a chance to organise a Cup of Nations; we cannot assign the organisation of the tournament successively to the same region,” said Motsepe.
This however seemed to count against Benin and Nigeria, because another West African nation, Ivory Coast, will host the next edition next year.
In addition to the continental event, Morocco is also bidding to jointly host the 2030 FIFA World Cup with Portugal and Spain as this played a role in their victory according to CAF president.
“I am very proud of Morocco. Morocco’s competing countries (for 2025 tournament) — Algeria, Zambia and Nigeria-Benin — announced their withdrawal, even if these countries still made their presentation.
“The main reason is to support Morocco in its candidacy for the 2030 World Cup,” jointly with Spain and Portugal, said CAF president Patrice Motsepe after naming the successful hosts in Cairo.
Nigeria’s failure to win the bid comes after the Minister of Sports Development Senator John Owan Enoh arrived in Egypt on Tuesday with representatives of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to bid to host AFCON.
Daily Trust reports that the last time Nigeria co-hosted the AFCON was in 2000 alongside Ghana. The Super Eagles lost the final of that tournament 4-3 on penalties to Cameroon. Prior to that tournament, Nigeria had hosted the 1980 AFCON, defeating Algeria in the final 3-0.
Nigeria having hosted two times went into the poll with other potential hosts confident of securing the rights. However, the Federal government delegation led by Enoh, was left disappointed in Cairo when CAF revealed the winner of the coveted hosting rights.
In his reaction, the chairman House of Representatives Committee on Sports, Honourable Ekene Adams has said Nigeria’s bid was not a priority for the country in a statement.
“We are not kicking against bidding for the Nations Cup, but I am against the timing of such step in relation to our current economic realities which every one of us is not ignorant of.
“As someone who has the fear of God, I can tell you for free that now that we are talking about hosting the Nations Cup, it has to do with building new facilities, and renovating stadiums but all of these are only beneficiary to we the Stakeholders and Politicians to make more money.
“I don’t think we mean well for the common man if this is our current priority as a Government.”
According to him, “the common man can hardly feed three times a day with the effect of the subsidy and it will not be good to hide under the guise of Sports and things like this to enrich ourselves at the expense of Nigerians.
“For example, the palliatives the National Assembly approved for Nigerians to cushion the effect of the subsidy hardship has not gotten to Nigerians across the country and the only thing we the stakeholders are concerned about now is wanting to host the AFCON.
“And after spending so much money to host this AFCON, we will then leave the facilities dilapidated as usual and the lack of maintenance story will continue which another Government will come again to spend so much on and nothing meaningful would have changed,” he stressed.
“As a lawmaker representing the people, I must also stress that I am an apostle of good change and will not support anything I know will not benefit the common man.”
Meanwhile, after the second round of voting, CAF also unveiled the joint bid by Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania as the winning bid for the hosting of the 2027 AFCON.
The trio saw off Botswana, Egypt and Senegal with the tournament now set to return to East Africa for the first time since 1976 when it took place in Ethiopia. None of the three countries have hosted the AFCON before.
This will be the 36th edition of the competition and will be the very first time it is hosted by three countries.