Following the more than 4,000 deaths as a result of the Ebola Virus Disease epidemic, hosts of the 2015 AFCON, Morocco had, through its health ministry, requested the postponement of the tournament.
The request for the postponement of the iconic event is the latest complication in African sports that has risen since the disease first broke out- reportedly in March. Weeks ago, Liberia and Sierra Leone announced the suspension of its national leagues as Seychelles also pulled out of a key AFCON qualifier thus forfeiting its place at the tournament over fears of the disease. So far, CAF has already had to reschedule games involving national teams of countries most affected by the disease. The request to postpone the AFCON is however the most delicate complication so far.
The soccer body’s response to the request has been a resounding rejection of the suggestion insisting that the tournament will hold as scheduled. A statement on CAF’s website says the request has been rejected.
“CAF has registered the request and wishes to state that there are no changes of the schedules of its competitions and events,” it read.
The statement adds that while the AFCON has never been deferred or postponed since inception in 1957, the football governing body was working in close quarters with health experts.
“CAF has also been cautions since the commencement of the final round qualifiers of the Orange Africa Cup of Nations Morocco 2015 on the health risks posed by the Ebola virus and has consistently applied precautionary principles, taking into account the recommendations of the World Health Organization and various medical experts.”
Interestingly however, CAF hinted that that the request to postpone the AFCON “will be discussed at the next meeting of the CAF Executive Committee scheduled for 2 November 2014 in Algiers, Algeria.”
CAF’s position is understandable as any changes to the scheduling of the AFCON will have effects due to CAF’s contractual obligations to its commercial sponsors which include Orange, Nissan and Pepsi, as well broadcast rights partners.
The AFCON is slated to take place from January 17 to February 8, 2015.