AFCON 2021 Date Change: Cameroon not to Blame, but Players will be Favored

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CAIRO, EGYPT - JULY 19: Algeria captain Riyad Mahrez lifts the trophy as his team celebrate winning the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Final between Senegal and Algeria at at the Cairo International Stadium on July 19, 2019 in Cairo, Egypt. (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)

2021 AFCON host, Cameroon did not request a change in the date of the competition, Organizing Committee member and football Legend Joseph-Antoine Bell has told footballlive.

Earlier this month, CAF announced it had decided on a new date for the kick off of its Flagship tournament, a reversal from the June-July date back to January-February for next year’s competition.

 

The Governing body explained that its decision was based on knowledge that the weather conditions in Cameroon at that time of year could hinder the competition.

 

A statement published on its website reads in part:

Faced with the challenge of unfavourable climatic conditions during the initial period (June-July), FECAFOOT expressed its wish to re-evaluate the dates for a favourable one.

After the exchanges, particularly from the Cameroonian meteorological officials and representatives of coaches and players, the AFCON Organising Committee, mandated by the CAF Executive Committee to make a decision, obliged to this request.

Consequently, the 2021 edition of the Total Africa Cup of Nations will take place in Cameroon, from 9 January to 6 February 6. A detailed report will be presented to the CAF Executive Committee at its next meeting scheduled for 6 February 2020.

 

However, there are concerns that Cameroon isn’t ready for the competition and is also behind schedule with the completion of grounds where matches will be played, among other things.

 

The Central African country was stripped of the hosting rights for last year’s competition because it was falling behind schedule with the completion of stadiums – Egypt re-awarded the hosting rights.

 

Elaborating on the decision, Bell, a former Cameroon International who now serves in the AFCON organizing committee said, “Firstly, Cameroon as host country did not ask for the move, but presented the situation, that from June till September, We always have the rainy seasons in all the proposed venues for the AFCON.”

“The director of the Committee was there and we presented the data. We explained when the rains come it will affect the players, fans and even Television.

“So it was up to CAF to decide on the two periods where there wasn’t going to be a problem.

 

“We presented January through February and March. Then we also presented November and December.  The CAF organizing committee decided on January-March.”

Bell further explained that the decision was reached with the best interest of players.

 

“We had to choose a period when that we believe wouldn’t hinder the players’ careers. We discussed with the Players representatives, Coaches and also people from the CAF side.”

 

“We looked at the period when there’ll be less matches for the players, especially those in Europe and we came to a conclusion that would ensure there’s little impact on their club chances. I was a player and in 1986 I was caught in the same problem of leaving the club for AFCON.

The decision by CAF to move the AFCON to the summer was to ensure it aligns the competition with football activities in Europe.

 

Egypt hosted the first AFCON tournament in June-July, but there’s no plan to jettison that competition date beyond the 2021 AFCON, Bell confirmed.

 

“This is just a punctual arrangement for this edition because in the next one, in Côte d’Ivoire June isn’t a problem, they don’t have the same problems of rain at all.”

 

Cameroon will host the 33rd edition of the competition 9 January to 6 February. Only 18 countries have hosted the AFCON and Cameroon will be doing it for only the second time next year.

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