Ahmad Ahmad, CAF President
Thursday Jan 10, 2019. 09:30
A lack of “any real support” from South Africa’s government ultimately cost the country the chance to host the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, according to Confederation of African Football (CAF) president Ahmad Ahmad.
Voting to decide the 2019 hosts was held on Tuesday in a CAF executive committee meeting in Dakar, Senegal – a day earlier than was originally scheduled.
Egypt comfortably won the vote against their only other opponent, South Africa, and have officially replaced Cameroon, who were stripped of their hosting rights late last year.
South African officials have since claimed that the decision was “political” and acting SAFA chief executive Russel Paul told AFP that they were concerned with the “process” of the voting.
“Technically, there is no country in Africa better suited to host the Cup of Nations than South Africa,” said Paul.
“We do not have a fight with Egypt. We have a fight with the way the process unfolded,” he added, referring to the vote being brought forward 24 hours without an explanation.
“A delegation had been prepared for a Wednesday presentation, only to find that the Egyptians had been there for a while, with government representatives, ready to present their case.”
Speaking in Dakar, Ahmad said the two candidates had equally good infrastructure, and the greater political enthusiasm of Egypt was the key factor.
“Our audit firm said the infrastructure was equal, so we assessed the political commitment in the two countries, and Egypt came out on top,” explained the CAF boss.
“Members of the executive committee did not feel any real support from the South African government to carry the project forward.”
It has also been suggested that South Africa’s decision to back the North American bid for the 2026 World Cup ahead of Morocco’s campaign last year infuriated Ahmad and other senior members of CAF.
“South Africa voting for the USA, especially after president Donald Trump had publicly criticised the people of the continent, was seen as anti-African,” AFP quote an unnamed CAF insider.
“The feeling ahead of the vote in Senegal was that Egypt were favourites, but no one expected such a landslide victory.”