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How Cameroon was stripped of Afcon hosting rights

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By AFP
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Cameroon was on Friday stripped of hosting the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations due to delays in preparing for the continental showpiece, organisers, the Confederation of African Football announced.

“Today we took the decision to withdraw the 2019 CAN from Cameroon,” Caf president Ahmad Ahmad told a press conference in Accra, seven months before the 2019 opening match.

He was speaking after a 10-hour Caf executive meeting held behind closed doors in the Ghanaian capital.

Ahmad said “a task force” would be set up to launch an appeal for offers “to determine a new organising country between now and the end of the year”.

South Africa and Morocco are two frontline contenders to step in as hosts for the event — expanded to 24 teams for the first time — in place of Cameroon, who won the last edition in 2017 in Gabon.

Morocco, who lost out to a United States/Mexico/Canada bid to host the 2026 World Cup, have regularly been reported as possible replacements.

The North Africans had been set to stage the 2015 Cup of Nations before being stripped of its hosting rights in a row over the Ebola outbreak.

South Africa is the only African country to stage a World Cup, in 2010, and last staged the Cup of Nations in 2013.

“I know that there are countries which are interested, rest assured, candidate countries will come forward,” said Ahmad.

“We know there won’t be many (new candidates) but we will leave the task force to evaluate them and to set up visits in order to select the organisers of the CAN by the end of the year”.

Alarm bells were sounded over the 2019 event at a September executive committee meeting in Egyptian resort Sharm el-Sheikh when Caf noted “a significant delay in the realisation of the infrastructures” necessary for holding the Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

A report of the last two inspection visits to central African state Cameroon were made at Friday’s meeting.

Caf inspectors recently travelled to the country, which last hosted the tournament in 1972, to check security, infrastructure, stadiums and accommodation.

“After numerous discussions and following inspections over the past 18 months Caf has become aware that several conditions of conformity have not been met,” a Caf statement explained.

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