By Norman S Miwambo
The staging of Africa’s most prominent sporting event is in jeopardy after Morocco unexpectedly pulled out of hosting next year’s Africa Cup of Nations. Worse still, no other African country has jumped in to offer hosting it after the North African country said it had decided it could not host the tournament for fear of bringing into the country the feared Ebola disease that has so far claimed the lives of 5160 people, according to the latest WHO report.
While in other parts of the world countries would do anything to host the World Cup of football, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) is facing a costly dilemma as it struggles to find an alternative venue for the tournament that was due to kick off in Rabat, the Moroccan capital from January 17 to February 8, 2015. Morocco decided it could not risk hosting the tournament and at the same time allow football-mad fans from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, the three African countries mainly affected by the Ebola virus to turn up and thereby bring with them the dreaded disease. Morocco is among African countries that have so far not reported any case of Ebola amongst its citizens.
Negotiations between Morocco and the Africa’s soccer governing body reached a stalemate over the weekend after Morocco announced it wouldn’t guarantee the health and safety of the visiting soccer fans from the Ebola affected nations. After exhausting negotiations and all available options with Moroccan authorities to reconsider its stand, CAF is now in search of a replacement to host the 2015 tournament. At the same time, Africa’s soccer governing body has disqualified Morocco from the tournament. But not a single African country has shown any willingness to step in and host the prestigious tournament.