Politics the reason SA missed out on hosting AFCON?

Cape Town - South African Football Association (SAFA) president Danny Jordaan believes that politics was the real reason behind South Africa missing out on hosting the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament.

South Africa were favourites to inherit the rights to host the prestigious football showpiece after original hosts, Cameroon, were stripped of the duty to do so in November last year due to a lack of preparation.

On Tuesday, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) announced Egypt as the host nation with less than six months to prepare for the global event.

However, before the announcement, Jordaan was confident that SAFA put in a solid bid and that the country would host AFCON for a third time after doing so in 1996 and 2013.

Egypt have hosted the tournament on four previous occasions, most recently in 2006.

"If you compare South Africa with Egypt, we clearly have an advantage because we have the infrastructure, the experience ... just everything in place," Jordaan told City Press.

"The politics are another matter. Arab countries are very entrenched and CAF's headquarters are in Cairo."

In a year where South Africans are heading to the polls to vote in the national elections in May - a month before the tournament - many believed that SAFA's bid would fail.

However, when asked if SAFA received the backing of the South African government in their bid to host AFCON, Jordaan was extremely coy. 

"The bidding process was a late thing. We wrote to CAF to say they must give us details of what to expect from the government," he responded.

"Normally, the requirement would be infrastructure. There will be no cost incurred for infrastructure."

According to reports, R120 million is needed to stage the tournament and the financial-stricken SAFA approached the South African government for help prior to announcing their bid to take over from Cameroon.

Meanwhile, SAFA acting CEO Russell Paul said after CAF's verdict that he believed South Africa are far better equipped as hosts compared to Egypt.

"Without being arrogant from a technical perspective, there is no other country on the continent better-suited [than South Africa] to host, that can boast the infrastructure, roads and stadiums we have. We don’t have a fight with Egypt, we have a fight with the way the process has unfolded," he said as quoted by The Citizen website.

"We wrote to Caf before the announcement to say there is a list of requirements for a bid, a process to be followed. There is supposed to be an inspection team, but they never arrived in the country. Secondly, they said the announcement would be on January 9 and suddenly it was moved to the 8th.

"We had prepared a delegation to go [to Dakar] tomorrow, only to find the Egyptians had been there a while, with government representatives, ready to make their presentation."

The 2019 tournament will be the 32nd edition and will be played from June 15 to July 13.

www.sport24.co.za

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