At its meeting on Sunday November 02nd 2014 in Algiers, the Executive Committee of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) considered the request of the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Morocco on the postponement of the 2015 Orange Africa Cup of Nations.
Unanimity was reached on keeping the competition on the dates originally agreed; namely from January 17 to February 8, 2015, for the following reasons:
1/ Since the beginning of the latest outbreak of the Ebola virus, CAF has always acted in accordance with the precautionary principle of safeguarding lives by strictly adhering to the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO). This was enforced through a circular dated 12 August 2014 which sanctioned the suspension of all CAF competitions in countries heavily affected by the disease; Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, so as to prevent holding football matches that could result in mass gatherings and could facilitate the spread of the virus.
Furthermore, CAF has then been able to organize peacefully all competitions across the continent since April 2014 with no cases of Ebola reported in connection with the organization of a football match.
The WHO reiterated CAF recommendations in a letter dated 14 October 2014 and re-confirmed in a press release issued on 23 October, 2014 that it did not recommend the cancellation of international meetings and mass gatherings in countries other than those affected.
2/ The requirement was made to all National Associations of CAF to comply with health protocols prescribed by the WHO, both from the countries affected by the epidemic and on arrival in countries hosting matches. For example, for the reception of Sierra Leone in September during the first day of the final phase of qualifiers for the Orange AFCON 2015, Cote d’Ivoire sought and obtained the presence of a CAF medical expert who was present in Abidjan to monitor the arrival of the delegation of Sierra Leone. Similarly, the Democratic Republic of Congo agreed to host the Sierra Leonean team unconditionally and allowed them to play their matches in their territory, again without any health problems reported.
In addition, through the strict application of the requirements of the WHO and health authorities in Namibia, the 2014 African Women Championship just ended in Namibia on October 25 without any health incident.
3/ Of the three countries where the epidemic is prevalent, only Guinea retains a chance of qualifying for the final tournament of the Orange AFCON 2015. In addition, Guinea hosts its home games in Casablanca and has adhered to a strict health protocol implemented by Morocco that has so far showed no flaws.
We would like therefore here-again to thank the Government of the Kingdom of Morocco for the solidarity it has shown with countries heavily affected by helping deal with stigma; actions which included hosting the national teams of Guinea (both U17 and the men’s senior team) in Casablanca.
4/ Morocco, a country where no cases of Ebola have been identified, welcomes in the coming weeks and a few days before the Orange AFCON 2015, the FIFA Club World Cup where there will be participants from a country where a case of the Ebola virus has been identified (Spain).
On the other hand, the number of foreign fans expected in the stadiums for the FIFA Club World 2014 is much higher than the ones expected for the Orange AFCON 2015. Indeed, almost all of the fans attending the Orange AFCON are residents in Morocco, and considering the average purchasing power in most African countries, it is unrealistic to expect more than 1,000 supporters from the rest of continent to attend the Orange AFCON 2015, except for those who benefit from a geographic proximity within the Maghreb region.
Therefore, CAF considers that the current health system in place in Morocco, and whose effectiveness has been proven, is more than able to cope with the very limited flow of people for the Orange AFCON 2015.
5/ The CAF schedule have expanded over the years and today counts eleven (11) competitions. Any change in the timing of events would be detrimental to the rest of the agenda, including the African Nations Championship (CHAN) scheduled for January 2016 in Rwanda, and that CAF will also maintain at the same dates.
6/ CAF also has the urgent need to respect the international calendar as established by FIFA, allowing it to secure the release of players from foreign clubs as these players represent a majority of members within the African teams and helps African football shine.
Since its creation, the ability of CAF to meet its commitments and maintain its competitive time schedules has allowed it to maintain a healthy relationship and trust with its National Associations, their authorities, public, commercial partners and all other international sports organizations.
Thus, the Executive Committee of CAF confirms its commitment to keep the competition on the dates indicated (January 17-February 8, 2015), while asking the Royal Moroccan Football Federation to clarify the final position of Morocco not later than 8 November, 2014.
This time given also applies to all other CAF national associations wishing to organize the competition on the dates agreed as long as the hosting requirements are met.
A meeting of the Executive Committee will be held 11 November 2014 in Cairo, Egypt to take the necessary decisions.