The Cameroon Football Federation (FECAFOOT) has responded angrily to remarks by Ahmad Ahmad, president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), concerning Cameroon’s suitability as a venue for the next Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
In a statement on Tuesday, FECAFOOT said that CAF had made a “premature judgement” regarding Cameroon’s fitness to play host, an honour it was awarded in 2014.
FECAFOOT added that Ahmad’s recent statements lend force to rumours of a “conspiracy” to change the venue from Cameroon to another nation.
On Saturday, during a visit to Burkina Faso, Ahmad said that Cameroon would “have to work” to convince visiting inspectors of its suitability as a venue. The comments were published in CAF’s official website.
Late on Monday, FECAFOOT issued a statement slamming Ahmad for his remarks.
“FECAFOOT is deeply concerned by the fact that these remarks are made even before the first CAF inspection mission, scheduled to arrive in Cameroon from 20 to 28 August 2017,” the statement read.
“The CAF president’s statements are not in line with reality. Indeed, Cameroon has recently organized, with undeniable success, the 2016 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations.”
In 2014, Cameroon was chosen to host AFCON 2019, but the tournament has since been expanded from 16 teams to 24, and there have been reports of preparations being behind schedule.
Ahmad’s comments on Saturday coincided with a change in the way CAF conducts assessments of possible competition venues, handing the inspection task to “experts”.
“We have decided that it is no longer the CAF Executive Committee who will inspect the countries selected for the organization of the AFCON. It is now experts who will do it and the CAF will decide based on their report,” Ahmad said.
“Regarding Cameroon, we will send the experts and we will decide at the end of their inspection mission. Cameroon will have to work to convince the CAF of its ability to host the event,” he added.
Cameroon’s response highlighted ongoing rumours that some officials might be seeking to move the tournament to a more favoured nation.
“It is difficult, after the above-mentioned remarks by the CAF president, not to pay attention to persistent rumors about the existence of a conspiracy to withdraw the organization of CAN 2019 in favor of another CAN country,” explained the Cameroonians.
“It is also curious that the date of the first CAF inspection mission was unilaterally changed from September to August 2017 without notice,” the statement concluded.