October 15, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese government has refused to host the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations next January, asking the Sudan Football Association (SFA) to postpone hosting of the 2017 tournament finals.
- The logo of the Africa Cup of Nations 2012 is seen on a giant screen during the draw ceremony for the CAF 2012 competition in Malabo on 29 October 2011 (Photo: AFP)
The decision comes two days after officials in SFA expressed Khartoum readiness to host the finals instead of the original host, Morocco.
Morocco’s government has written to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to delay the 17 January to 8 February event because of the Ebola outbreak.
The CAF said it would discuss Morocco’s request to defer the date at the next meeting of its executive committee on November 2 nd.
More than 4,000 people have died from the Ebola epidemic, most of them in west African countries Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone - since the beginning of the year.
Guinea and Sierra Leone are involved in ongoing group qualifiers while Liberia were eliminated in the preliminary knockout phase.
The Sudanese cabinet on Wednesday has commissioned the minister of youth and sports, Abdel-Hafiz al-Sadiq, to convey its decision to SFA.
Al-Sadiq also received a presidential directive to delay Sudan’s hosting of the 2017 African Cup of Nations finals.
The minister of health, Bahar Idriss Abu Garda, said in press statements that the cabinet meeting on Wednesday, in the presence of the relevant ministries including youth and sports ministry, decided to refuse hosting the 2015 tournament.
He said Ebloa is an infectious and deadly disease which is widely spread in West African countries, noting the latter are the most participating nations in the tournament finals.
“This is a real risk and the country must not take it,” he added.
Abu Garda underscored that his ministry took several measures to prevent the spread of Ebola in Sudan, pointing to formation of higher committee including the civil aviation corporation, foreign and interior ministries, security services, and the refugees’ commission besides the health ministry’s relevant committees in Darfur and eastern Sudan.
The minister said he does not think that Ebola poses potential risk to Sudan, expressing fear over the disease spread in Africa, America, Spain and Germany.
He pointed that several hospitals in Khartoum and trained doctors are ready to deal with any suspected cases of the disease, stressing close coordination with the World Health Organization (WHO) in this regard.
The SFA financial secretary, Osma Atta al-Manan, had earlier told the “Sudan Koora” website that CAF decided to put Sudan as the first variant if Morocco declined to host the finals.
He emphasised Sudan’s readiness to host the tournament, saying Khartoum could host three groups and a fourth one could be hosted in Port Sudan.
Atta al-Manan added that a trilateral meeting including the Sudanese presidency, SFA and the ministry of youth and sports will convene within the few coming days to support CAF’s decision to organise the tournament in Sudan.