NYON/CAIRO: The African football confederations risks provoking Europe into barring its players from the Nations Cup after a war of words between respective presidents Issa Hayatou and Michel Platini.
Platini is demanding an apology after CAF criticised him for comments on the staging of the finals. CAF accused Platini of “treacherously” interfering after he discussed the impact of the Ebola crisis on the tournament in a TV broadcast.
But the UEFA president has insisted his comments have been misinterpreted and CAF says an apology will not be forthcoming.
If the row intensifies then European clubs – permanently upset at seeing their top African players head off for two months every two years – will be only too happy to swing their weight behind Platini.
The Nations Cup is due to be held in Morocco from January 17 to February 8 but the host nation have said they wish to postpone the tournament.
Around 4,500 people have died since the Ebola epidemic broke out in west Africa at the start of the year. CAF itself has already barred Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone hosting any international football and Seychelles forfeited their Nations Cup qualifier rather than host Sierra Leone
On Tuesday CAF claimed Platini had suggested in the interview that the tournament be postponed – a claim Platini denies.
The confederation stated it did not “intend to let anyone interfere in the management of its affairs”.
But Platini responded in a letter to the CAF president Issa Hayatou saying he was deeply upset by the accusations, and demanded a formal apology.
The letter also included a transcript of the interview.
“At no point did I interfere in any way in the affairs of the CAF and at no point did I call for or support the postponement of the forthcoming Africa Cup of Nations,” Platini wrote.
“It is for Mr Hayatou to decide on the question of postponement. Public health has to take priority, but it is up to them to decide what to do.”
CAF has stated it has no intention of changing the dates and has since approached Ghana, South Africa and up to five other countries about their willingness to host the event should Morocco withdraw.
The confederation is due to meet Moroccan officials on November 3 to discuss the hosting of the tournament. Moroccan has suggested a postponement until June.