2015 AFCON Host Will Be Known In 2-3 Days, Says Issa Hayatou

CAF President, Issa Hayatou was interviewed live on Tuesday night on French channel, France 24.  This was few hours after the CAF Executive Committee meeting held at its headquarters in Cairo, Egypt; that acknowledged the refusal of Morocco to host the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations from 17 January to 8 February.  In a press release, CAF said that new host country will be known in few days.  The CAF President said it will be known within 3-4 days in the interview transcribed below.

France 24: We have on the line the President of the Confederation Africaine de Football (CAF), Issa Hayatou to discuss the decision regarding Morocco.  Goodnight Mr Hayatou!  Thank you very much for answering our call this evening live from Paris.  Do you understand the decision by the Moroccan authorities not to host the Africa Cup of Nations?

Issa Hayatou: No, I do not understand.  Because as you pointed out earlier and I heard you, it’s still a fairly long process.  We have been in contact with the Fédération Royale Marocaine de Football (FRMF).  I led a delegation to Morocco and we had much dialogue with them that the Africa Cup of Nations, which is our main event, cannot be postponed, because, this is the credibility of the Confederation.  Of course, they said the reason was Ebola.  But when we see also that Morocco is in the process of organizing the FIFA Club World Cup, only 25 days before the Africa Cup of Nations, you understand that this is an argument that must be quickly erased.  This has led us to this decision. I fully understand the position of CAF and it was absolutely necessary to end this standoff with the FRMF.

Mr President, indeed the Africa Cup of Nations is the main event on the continent. Is it that the request of Morocco was totally impossible to accept?

It is impossible for reasons you know. We are in Africa and we know our continent better than anyone.  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 cannot organize 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, which today is the pride of all Africans.  They have this festival every two-years and we are not about to leave the opportunity to anyone to destroy the work we have patiently developed over the years.

Indeed since 1957, never has an edition of the Africa Cup of Nations been canceled or postponed, despite the geopolitical problems that continent has witnessed.  Tonight, we know that Morocco won’t host the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.  Players competing in the qualifiers are wondering where the final tournament will be held.  What can we tell them?

All I can say is that it will be played somewhere.  In our press release, we announced that we had a few requests from some African federations.  It happened yesterday (Monday, November 10, 2014, take note).  We have not had the time to get in touch with these federations to try to define the contours of the organization.  Therefore, I cannot tell you where it will be played.  All I can tell you is that it will take place.

Can you confirm that it will take place on the previously announced dates, 17 January to 8 February 2015?

This is what we said in our statement that the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations must absolutely take place from 17 January to 8 February for reasons you know.  There are a lot of reasons that led us not to change the date.  You know, we have a problem with French clubs which will not release our players if we move the Africa Cup of Nations.

Will it be a co-host among two countries or a single host?

Do not anticipate!  Wait for two or three days.  You have waited for a month.  The series lasted a month. It is left with 3 or 4 days, so do not be in a hurry