Morocco cites Ebola, seeks soccer cup delay
Ebola fears have prompted Morocco to refuse to host the African Cup of Nations soccer finals in January. Reacting to an deadline, Rabat has reiterated its call for a tournament postponement by up to one year. Morocco sidestepped a late Saturday ultimatum from the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to either confirm or reject its hosting timeframe of January 17 to February 8 for the Cup of Nations finals.
Instead, Morocco’s Ministry of Sports reiterated Rabat’s call for a postponement, saying its decision was “dictated by health reasons because of the serious threat of Ebola and the risk of its spreading.”
It added that its call for a delay should be “perfectly acceptable.”
CAF has accused Morocco of exaggerating the risk that an influx of foreign fans could spread the hemorrhagic virus which kills up to half of its victims.
CAF executive to meet in Cairo
CAF, the continental ruling body, had given Morocco until Saturday November 15 to give a firm response on whether it would host the event as scheduled.
The Moroccan government had already called on CAF to drop its insistence on January 2015 and push back the tournament back to June 2015 or January 2016.
CAF said earlier on Saturday its next move hinged on an executive committee meeting in Cairo on Tuesday. Morocco risks losing its hosting rights and incurring CAF sanctions.
As many as seven nations have reportedly been asked if they would stand in as emergency hosts. Algeria, Egypt, South Africa and Sudan have declined, according to the news agency AFP.
Qualifying group games have so far left two Ebola-affected nations, Guinea and Sierra Leone, at the bottom of the preliminary series with two rounds left.