It does not seem to rain but its pouring for the beleaguered President of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Ahmad Ahmad as pressure mounts on him to reconsider his stance after stripping Cameroon of its right to host the 2019 African Cup of Nations.
Although Ahmad announced that the CAF executive took a decision to withdraw hosting rights from Cameroon and declared the 2019 edition vacant while disclosing that Cameroon would be awarded the 2021 edition, it seems like he has acted unilaterally.
Cote d’Ivoire, who were awarded the right to host the 2021 edition of Africa’s Premier competition, has taken both CAF and Ahmad to the Court of Arbitration in Switzerland, claiming Ahmad overstepped boundaries in awarding Cameroon the 2021 edition without the endorsement of the entire executive committee.
In essence, pushing the 2021 to be hosted by Cameroon means Ivory Coast, who were supposed to host the 2021, has now been awarded the rights to host the 2023 edition while Guinea, who had been initially been awarded the rights of the 2023 edition, remains in the dark and are equally not happy about the turn of events.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport confirmed on Thursday that it has received an appeal from the Football Federation of Cote d’Ivoire (FIF) complaining about the decision by CAF to “strip” them of the right to host the 2021 hosting rights.
“The FIF was surprised to learn that the president of CAF decided on his own accord, without any prior consultation, to reassign the 2021 edition, which was entrusted until then to Ivory Coast, instead to Cameroon,” read a statement from the FIF.
“The preparations and work required to organise this great competition, which is particularly important for all Ivorian football followers and the Ivory Coast nation, constitutes important economic, financial and human investment.
“In view of all that has happened, the FIF has gone to CAS to appeal the decision of CAF,” read the statement as Guinea also appear to be sharpening their knives and intend plunging them into the exposed body of an under siege Ahmad.
When asked about the agreement to award Cote d’Ivoire the right to host the 2023 edition which was supposed to be hosted by Guinea and whether Guinea will now host the 2025 edition, the CAF President was evasive.
“I don’t want to talk about the case of Guinea now,” said Ahmad in an interview with Radio France on Wednesday. “Please allow me to deal with the first two (Cameroon and Cote d’Ivoire), then we will deal with others.
“We are managing the first two. I believe we will make it. I am very confident that the highest authority of Ivory Coast (Government) will listen to their countrymen that are part of AFCON preparations, then they will realise that CAF is right.
“Because if we apply stupidly then the rules like it used to happen in the past, will happen even with the case of Cameroon and AFCON 2019. That is the reason that we as the executive committee accept our guilt to shift the AFCONS.”
Ahmad went on to admit and accept that CAF committed a blunder and violated their own rules by not punishing Cameroon, because the rules state clearly that if the hosting of the AFCON is taken away, the said host gets suspended for two editions, but in this case Cameroon are not at fault.
“It is in violation of our statutes, yes, but we have no choice. We are in a very complicated position. I accept that we are at fault, because the rule is very clear and that in a case of a withdrawal, the penalty is a fine as well as suspension for two editions of AFCON whenever we take it away from a country.
“We have to be positive. The rules were made by the executive committee and if the executive committee decides to change the rules, then the executive is within its rights. How can we let down Cameroon down and punish them with all the investments they have already put in? As responsible leaders we cannot do that.”
All eyes are focussed on CAS as the mull over Cote d’Ivoire’s appeal and a decision against CAF could really set the cat among pigeons and put a dent on Ahmad’s credibility and probably lead to possible calls for a vote of no confidence.