CAIRO: Issa Hayatou has insisted that to have allowed any potponement of the African Nations Cup finals would have been “to sign our death warrant” writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
The Cameroonian president of the African football confederation set out starkly the reasons for rejecting the delay proposal by initial host Morocco, promoted by concerns about the spread of ebola.
The AFC executive committee decided yesterday in Cairo that the finals must go ahead, as scheduled, between January 17 and February 8.
Hayatou said that the substitute host – or hosts, he did not rule out co-hosting – would be confirmed withih “three to four days.”
Hayatou said that, in extended negotiations with the Moroccan federation, he had always insisted that postponement was impossible for the sake the ” credibility of the confederation.”
He also suggested that thought “they said the reason was ebola” this did not stand up on consideration that Morocco will be staging the FIFA Club World Cup next month – “only 25 days before the Africa Cup of Nations.”
Hayatou added: “This is an argument that must be quickly erased. This has led us to this decision.
“It was absolutely necessary to end this standoff . . . once you postpone this event, it will open the door for everybody to ask for a delay of any competition and we will no longer be credible and [appear CAF] cannot organise anything.
“We will hurt our sponsors and partners. Everyone will say we are not ready and finally it is CAF that will pay the piper. That is what I told the Moroccans: We cannot sign our death warrant because if we postpone this event, it will be very deadly for African football.
“For 57-years, we have patiently built this house . . we are not about to leave the opportunity to anyone to destroy the work we have patiently developed over the years.
“Since 1957, never has an edition of the Africa Cup of Nations been cancelled or postponed, despite the geopolitical problems [Africa] has witnessed.”
Possible substitutes include Angola, host in 2010, and Gabon, co-host in 2012.
# # # #