Despite FIFA, European pressure, Motsepe insists AFCON will begin in Cameroon January 9, 2022
Despite enormous press from European clubs and world football governing body, FIFA, Confederation of African Football (CAF), Patrice Motsepe, yesterday, confirmed that the 2022 African Cup of Nations will kickoff on January 9, 2022 as scheduled.
Speaking after a meeting with the government of Cameroun in Yaounde, Mostepe praised the hosts for their efforts in ensuring that the necessary facilities are in place for a secure and entertaining African Nations Cup, saying that the hosts have shown that Africans can host big international competitions despite Challenges posed by COVID-19 pandemic.
He said: “My message when we ended a meeting with the 54 presidents of African football in Cairo is that we will all meet in a few weeks time in Cameroun because the competition is for the people of Cameroun and the people of Africa.
“I am so proud and so excited about the work that has been done. You can see a huge commitment and a focus to ensure that some of those issues that are being put in place… in a few days good progress is being made.
“My message to the world and Africa is that we, together with the government of Cameroun, will host the best of African football, the best of African hospitality and the best there is in the continent. It is going to be a successful competition.”
He urged, “everybody to be here on January 7. We must believe in ourselves, in our people. We have to be more optimistic.
“All over the world, there are competitions that have problems, but they are still going on. Africans must believe in Africa because we have the capacity to host a successful competition.”
There had been intense pressure from European clubs on CAF to move the competition forward citing the widespread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus pandemic.
Although CAF initially stood its ground that the competition would go ahead as planned, The Guardian learnt, yesterday, there were pressure from within and outside the continent on the body to suspend it ‘to stem the spread of the virus.’
Last week, FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, cast fresh doubt on the tournament holding as scheduled and called for a postponement.
According to a report in iNews, Infantino’s first priority is the Club World Cup, which is due to begin on February 3, 2022 and overlaps with the conclusion of AFCON.
Those for the AFCON to hold as scheduled argue that Africa does not have the same COVID-19 spread rate as Europe and other parts of the world, adding that the European Championship held in the thick of the virus in the summer.
A CAF official, who pleaded anonymity, told the press in Cameroun, yesterday, that the African Cup of Nations cannot be postponed in favour of the Club World Cup, arguing that Africa’s fate cannot be dependent on foreign competitions.