Football Sport

Let’s level playing field

Soccer Review with STEPHEN PHIRI
LAST week, Africa Cup of Nations organising committee vice-president Philip Chiyangwa hit the nail on the head when he questioned the morality of one region being gifted the right to host a number of the biennial tournament consecutively.

Chiyangwa, who is also Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) president, seems to be the right change agent and he will not brook any of this blatant bias. He seems, to me, to be the voice of reason.
With all due respect to West African countries and their level of football development, it is not true that they are the only ones with the right credentials.
The 2012 edition was hosted in Equatorial Guinea/Gabon, South Africa staged the 2013 event after Libya withdrew due to turmoil in the North African country.
Equatorial Guinea were hosts in 2015 and two years later, Gabon staged the event.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) awarded Cameroon to stage the 2019 tournament, Ivory Coast will welcome the 16 teams in 2021 and Guinea Conakry will be hosts in 2023.
This kind of scenario shows favouritism for one region, which is not good for football. After all, football is a unifier.
Football is about fair play and this should be translated even in boardrooms.
The Africa Cup of Nations should be staged in all the regions – Central, East, South, West and North.
When did East Africa host the Africa Cup?
The FIFA executive has scored a first in terms of spreading the hosting of the World Cup.
West Germany hosted the World Cup in 1974, Argentina (1978), Spain (1982), Mexico (1986), Italy (1990), United States of America (1994), France (1998), Japan/South Korea (2002), Germany (2006), South Africa (2010) and Brazil (2014).
Russia will host the 2018 edition and Qatar will hit headlines in 2022.
Former CAF president Issa Hayatou’s executive could have done better unlike how the situation is at the moment.
What justification is there to pick West Africa to host three tournaments (2019 to 2023) in a row?
I hope the new CAF president, Ahmad Ahmad, will correct the situation and ensure that all the regions benefit from staging the showpiece.
Hosting the Africa Cup of Nations comes with a lot of benefits such as earning the much needed foreign exchange.
I am aware that some countries in Southern and East Africa failed to host the tournament when they were awarded in the past but that does not mean that they will let down CAF this time around.
I know Zambia withdrew in 1988 due to lack of infrastructure but over the years a number of countries have built modern stadiums.
Ahmad should not just concentrate on Southern Africa or Madagascar, where he hails from, but should spread the tournament to all the regions.
He has a duty to embrace all the regions.
Chiyangwa, who is Zimbabwe Football Association president, announced that the CAF executive is reviewing decisions of the former executive and Zambia might be awarded the 2021 edition.
If such a thing happens, then it would be welcome because Zambia has the infrastructure to cope with demands of being hosts of the continental showpiece.
Zambia has experience having successfully staged the 2017 Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations.
Football unites and Africans should embrace.,


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