Wednesday 12 November 2014

Morocco banned from African Cup of Nations

Morocco has been expelled from the 2015 African Cup of Nations after refusing to host the competition as scheduled due to fears over the spread of Ebola. 

The competition’s organisers now have just days to find an alternative venue, with the cup still scheduled to begin in mid-January.

Morocco had asked to postpone the 16-team tournament by several months, fearing that fans and players from west Africa might spread the Ebola virus to the north African kingdom.

But after a marathon meeting of the competition’s governing body, the Confederation of African Football, officials rejected Morocco’s request and will instead aim to hold the cup on the same dates in January and February in a different African country.

Caf stands to lose millions of dollars in revenue should the competition be postponed. But Morocco says that monetary concerns are trumped by health ones, with around 5,000 people killed since the summer by Ebola in west African countries – including Guinea, whose team still has a chance of qualifying for the tournament.

“This decision is motivated mainly by the medical risks that would put this virus on the health of our fellow Africans,” Morocco’s sports minister, Mohamed Ouzzine, said in a statement.

“Zero safety does not exist but one has to take the necessary precautions so that the coming tournament will be a football feast, bringing together our African brothers,” Ouzzine elaborated in an separate interview. “But given the current Ebola situation we don’t think such a feast can take place as expected.”
“Following the refusal of the Moroccan party, the executive committee decides that the national team of Morocco is automatically disqualified and will not take part in the 30th edition of the Orange Africa Cup of Nations in 2015,” Caf said in a statement following the meeting at their headquarters west of Cairo.

Credit: Patrick Kingsley/theGuardian

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