SA steps in as emergency host of next year’s African Nations Cup
The South African Football Association (Safa) has accepted a request from the Confederation of African Football (Caf) to step in as emergency host of the 2019 African Nations Cup.
Caf's desperate SOS to SA came just days after the continental body stripped Cameroon of the hosting rights‚ citing fears over security and delays in preparations for the event as reasons for the decision.
The request was discussed at great length at the Safa AGM in Sandton on Sunday afternoon and a decision was taken to express interest in taking over the event.
Safa president Danny Jordaan said that while they are keen to welcome the continent’s best teams to South Africa next year‚ the decision is dependent on the development of a business case and on getting the SA government’s approval and support.
‘‘The Caf executive said the country to host the 2019 tournament must offer a plug-and-play option because of the shortness of time. If you look around here they can just bring their computers‚ plug them in and start playing in South Africa‚” he said on Sunday.
‘‘We have ten World Cup stadiums here and those stadiums have got all the media and broadcast infrastructure.
‘‘That’s why we could host Paraguay here (at the Moses Mabhida stadium in November)‚ that’s why we could host Nigeria here (at FNB stadium also last month) and that's why we could host Barcelona (in the international club friendly against Mamelodi Sundowns at FNB stadium in May).
‘‘And in Barcelona’s case‚ the media requirements are huge and they were surprised and very happy with what [FNB stadium] had to offer.
‘‘We have got world-class stadiums. That stadium (FNB) was the final of the 2010 World Cup.
‘‘So there is no question that we have the stadiums‚ we have the training venues‚ we have the hotels‚ we have the roads and we have the airports.”
Jordaan said they would put together a proposal and request a meeting with government in the coming days.
South Africa has a huge advantage over other countries on the continent as the infrastructure is already in place after hosting the 2010 World Cup‚ an event that was hailed at the time as "the best ever".
Jordaan said that with the exception of a few upgrades and minor adjustments‚ the majority of the costs would be used on the operational side rather than on infrastructure.
‘‘From the infrastructure side I think we tick all the boxes and we do not have to spend money on infrastructure because we already have it‚” he said.
‘‘But on the operational side‚ what will the event cost? The last Afcon was 16 teams and it is now 24 teams. So we will have to put a case and understand what it will cost to deliver an event like this.”
The 2019 African Nations Cup will be held from June 15 to July 13 and it will be the first time that 24 teams contest the title after the amount of participating countries was increased from 16 sides.