'These are no sour grapes but CAF never sent an inspection team to SA‚' says acting SAFA CEO Paul

10 January 2019 - 10:17 By Marc Strydom
SA Football Association acting chief executive Russell Paul.
SA Football Association acting chief executive Russell Paul.
Image: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

The SA Football Association (Safa) have complained to the Confederation of African Football (Caf) about crucial procedural oversights in their bid process for awarding the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations to Egypt on Tuesday.

Safa are bewildered that‚ as one of the two bidders they were never officially informed about Caf moving their executive meeting in Dakar‚ Senegal on the hosting from Wednesday (January 9) to Tuesday (January 8).

Safa say that no inspection team was ever sent to South Africa.

In a letter to Caf‚ which TimesLIVE is in possession of‚ Safa complain that arrangements for a South African government delegation to be in Dakar were derailed by the change.

The Egyptian FA‚ they said‚ and delegation were in Dakar for a few days before Tuesday.

Safa acting chief executive Russell Paul confirmed to TimesLIVE that they only heard about the change of date of the meeting‚ where Egypt were voted to replace Cameroon as hosts by 16 votes to one‚ “through the grapevine”.

Safa’s letter‚ addressed to Caf deputy general secretary Anthony Baffoe‚ reminded the African controlling body that their own process in their “Request for Application” stated that there would be‚ “evaluation of bid books‚ pre-selected applicants’ announcement‚ possible requests for additional information and possible on-site visits”.

It continued: “In addition‚ we were previously advised that Caf would make a formal announcement on the 9th of January 2019‚ and we arranged for a delegation from Government to be present‚ only to learn last night [Monday] – unofficially – that Caf will make an announcement today at 08h30 GMT (we are yet to receive any official announcement in this regard).

“We have reliably learnt that the Egyptian FA is in Dakar‚ with a delegation ready to make a presentation to CAF‚ and accompanied by Government Officials.

"We consider this process that is unfolding as highly irregular and as such reserve our rights regarding the procedural matters on the awarding of the host country for Afcon 2019.”

Paul confirmed no inspection team had visited South Africa.

“No‚ there was no inspection team. There was never an inspection team that arrived in South Africa‚ or that requested to come to South Africa.

“So‚ that gives an indication of: on what basis did they evaluate‚ by their own procedures?

“There was a company hired to evaluate. That company also did not send an inspection team. They did it by remote control.

“The other aspect is that we don’t know‚ up until now‚ the reason for the move from the 9th to the 8th.

“When you consider that we had actually set up a delegation to go there for the 9th‚ and the Egyptians had already been there for a few days with their government delegation and their media‚ prepared to make a bid presentation.

“We were never advised officially. We just got this by the grapevine that it was moved to the eighth‚ with the meeting at 8.30am Dakar time‚ or 10.30am SA time. It’s unprocedural and unfair.

“And these are not sour grapes because that letter was sent at 10am‚ before the meeting and announcement.”

Paul had earlier said that there was a strong possibility that political considerations overrode the technical aspects of the two bids.

He believed 2010 World Cup hosts South Africa technically‚ and in readiness‚ far outweighed the bid of Egypt.

Speculation had been that Caf’s vote would favour Egypt due to South Africa having voted for the successful 2026 Fifa World Cup bid of USA-Canada-Mexico over Morocco.

Egypt only decided to bid when Morocco withdrew.

Cameroon were stripped of the competition last year over planning and security issues.