The Ivorian Football Federation (FIF) insists neither they nor the Abidjan government have been informed by the Confederation of African Football (Caf) of a possible shift in their hosting of the Africa Cup of Nations in 2021.
The Ivorian Federation reacted to an interview Caf president Ahmad gave to Afrique Media TV on Monday when he said that Cameroon – stripped of the 2019 hosting rights – would replace Cote d’Ivoire as hosts in 2021 and the latter would instead stage the 2023 tournament.
“We made this decision to shift, because we saw that Cote d’Ivoire also is not ready for 2021. To do things in a more humane way, in 2021, the Cameroonians will be ready.
“And in 2023, we will organise the tournament in Cote d’Ivoire. This is the decision taken by the Caf Executive Committee on November 30, 2018 in Accra,” Ahmad said.
A letter from Ahmad to the Cameroon President Paul Biya dated November 30, 2018, seen by BBC Sport, has also surfaced in Cameroon where Ahmad has invited Cameroon to host the 2021 Nations Cup.
However, FIF revealed in a statement on Tuesday, that it has written to Caf to remind the body of the decision it took in 2014, and said the “Federation deplores this way of proceeding”.
“It is reported that the Ivorian state authorities and the leaders of the Ivorian Football Federation have been approached by the Confederation of African Football (Caf) and that they would have been consulted on the recent decision taken by the Executive Committee of the said Confederation regarding the organisation of CAN 2021 which has been designated to the Cote d’Ivoire, by the unanimous members of the Caf Executive Committee meeting in Addis Ababa in September 2014, following a successful bid,” the Ivorian Federation stated.
“The Ivorian Football Federation wishes to formally deny this allegation. No Ivorian state authority, nor any leader of the Federation, at any level whatsoever, has been contacted or approached by the African Football Confederation before taking this decision.
“In addition, President Augustin Sidy Diallo was in Accra to attend the final of the CAN Women and at no time was he informed by any leader of the African Football Confederation with regards to anything relating to this subject.”
Caf, which is still looking for a new host for the 2019 Nations Cup, has not made any official statement on the reported swap and some top officials told the BBC that only president Ahmad or the general-secretary Amr Fahmy can confirm this latest development.
Guinea, who were given hosting rights for 2023, would also be affected by this shift. Guinea, which has never hosted the competition, promised to use Conakry, Kankan, Labe and Nzerekore as venues.
Back in October, Cote d’Ivoire Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly had laid the foundation stone of a brand new football stadium in Yamoussoukro as work commenced in preparation for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.
Hundreds of people were present at the site for the 20,000-capacity stadium in the political capital, which is expected to be one of six venues for the tournament.
Coulibaly promised a budget of $345 million investment in infrastructure in preparation of the country’s first hosting of the event since 1984.
Work on a separate 60,000-capacity stadium in Abidjan began in 2016, while other new grounds are scheduled at San Pedro and Korhogo, and the renovation of a major stadium at Bouake (40,000) is also on the agenda.
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