CAF strip Cameroon of AFCON hosting rights – sources
The Confederation of African Football has stripped Cameroon of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations hosting rights in light of ongoing concerns about the country’s security and infrastructure, according to sources close to ESPN.
The decision was taken at Friday’s Exceptional General Meeting in Accra, where CAF’s executive committee opted to re-open bidding for the tournament, which is due to kick off in June 2019.
Sources have confirmed to ESPN that the final round of inspections in Cameroon – undertaken by CAF and independent auditor Roland Berger – have prompted the conclusion that the Central African nation is not in a position to host the tournament.
Cameroon’s hosting of the 2019 tournament has been a contentious issue for CAF since African football’s governing body opted to expand the tournament to 24 teams – from 16 – in July 2017.
While Cameroon bid to host a 16-team tournament, they have been unable to convince CAF that they have the infrastructure to host an expanded event.
While CAF have not officially confirmed the decision, President Ahmed Ahmed told assembled journalists that any countries interested in putting themselves forward as potential hosts have 21 days to present their candidacy.
“The security Committee and the inspection team will visit Cameroon to assess the situation before a final ruling is made end of November,” Ahmed told journalists during a press conference in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt in September.
“We watched a video showing some of the developments in Cameroon as per preparation and there are good changes, but not enough yet.”
Speaking to ESPN in August, Ahmed hinted that concerns about security and infrastructure could lead to Cameroon, Africa’s reigning champions, being stripped of their hosting rights.
“I am not sure Cameroon is ready to host the AFCON,” he told ESPN. “There are many things which are still wanting and yet there is little time left.
“It would be dangerous to risk African players, especially the professionals plying their trade in Europe and other continents, to play under difficult conditions and facilities.”
The 2019 event would have been Cameroon’s first time hosting the biennial continental showpiece since 1972.