The newly elected Confederation of African Football (CAF) President Ahmad Ahmad promised a new dawn when he ascended the throne in March 2017 but within a year, has fractured the organization which is divided right down the middle.
And nothing shows the factions within CAF more than the decision to strip Cameroon of the right to host the 2019 African Nations Cup tournament and then awarding the Cameroon hosting rights of the 2021 edition which was supposed to be hosted by Cote d’Ivoire.
“It is with honor and respect that I am writing to you at this moment when the executive committee of CAF at their meeting in Accra on the 30th November decided to divert (strip) the organization of the AFCON 2019 from Cameroon,” reads a statement Ahmad sent to Cameroon President Paul Biya.
“I would like to reassure your Excellency, that considering all the efforts you have accomplished with your personal implications and involvement, CAF and its executive committee will be honored to see Cameroon hosting 2021 edition.
“It will allow Cameroon to complete (building infrastructure) in comfort all its projects and security issues. I can assure you that CAF will be on your side to help you achieve this historical and noble mission.”
But it seems like Ahmad acted unilaterally without consulting his executive committee when he assured Cameroon that they would be afforded the opportunity to host the 2021 edition as he has been contradicted by a member of his own executive committee.
“As a member of the executive committee and the Emergency Committee, I want to say that the CAF must pay attention to its declarations to avoid creating problems,” said Musa Bility, a former Liberian FA President and now CAF executive committee member.
“We have only dealt with the case of Cameroon (for CAN 2019). It is very clearly too early to say that the Elephants (Cote d’Ivoire) will not be ready to host the 2021 AFCON.
“For Côte d’Ivoire, we decided to send a technical team to check if the preparations are on schedule and moving forward. Once the Technical report is in our possession it is only then that we will be able to take a decision for both 2021 and 2023,” openly contradicting Ahmad.
“There was never any question of moving the CAN from Côte d’Ivoire. We (Executive committee) made the decision for Cameroon six months before the competition. We cannot decide two years before for Ivory Coast.
The position is very clear: the host country for 2021 is Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea for 2023. Everything else that has been said does not imply the executive committee,” clearly indicating that the decision to award Cameroon the 2021 edition was unilaterally taken by Ahmad.
Meanwhile, the Ivorian Football Federation (FIF) insists neither they nor the government have been informed by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) of a possible shift in their hosting of the Africa Cup of Nations in 2021.
The Ivorian Federation reacted to an interview CAF president Ahmad gave to Afrique Media TV this week when he said that Cameroon – stripped of the 2019 hosting rights – would replace Cote d’Ivoire as hosts in 2021 and the latter would instead stage the 2023 tournament.
“We made this decision to shift, because we saw that Cote d’Ivoire also is not ready for 2021,” said Ahmad. “To do things in a more humane way, in 2021, the Cameroonians will be ready. And in 2023, we will organise the tournament in Cote d’Ivoire.”
“It is reported that the Ivorian state authorities and the leaders of the Ivorian Football Federation have been approached by CAF and that they would have been consulted on the recent decision taken by the Executive Committee of the said Confederation regarding the organisation of CAN 2021 which has been designated to the Cote d’Ivoire, by the unanimous members of the Caf Executive Committee meeting in Addis Ababa in September 2014, following a successful bid,” the Ivorian Federation stated.
“The Ivorian Football Federation wishes to formally deny this allegation. No Ivorian state authority, nor any leader of the Federation, at any level whatsoever, has been contacted or approached by the African Football Confederation before taking this decision.
“In addition, President Augustin Sidy Diallo was in Accra to attend the final of the African Cup of Nations for Women and at no stage was he informed by any leader of the African Football Confederation with regards to anything relating to this subject.”
A clearly angry and defiant Diallo hinted that they might be approaching the Court of Arbitration for Sports to get involved in the dispute that threatens Ahmad’s reign in only his second year as President of CAF.
Work on a separate 60,000-capacity stadium in Abidjan began in 2016, while other new grounds are scheduled at San Pedro and Korhogo, and the renovation of a major stadium at Bouake (40,000) is also on the agenda.