Cameroon political twist: normalisation committee adds to doubt over 2019 AFCON hosting

By Andrew Warshaw

August 24 – Cameroon’s flickering hopes of staging the 2019 African Nations Cup have been plunged into further doubt following FIFA’s appointment of a normalisation committee to run the national federation (FECAFOOT).

This week an eight-day inspection visit to gauge the country’s ability to host the event – the first AFCON to comprise an expanded 24-team finals – was unexpectedly called off amid apparent security concerns.

Perhaps now we know the real reason why. After months of internal bickering, FIFA says it has had to intervene after “recent failed attempts to reconcile the football stakeholders in Cameroon and overcome the current impasse”.

The normalisation committee will run Fecafoot’s daily affairs, draft new statutes and organise elections for a new executive committee by the end of February.

A bitter power struggle in Cameroon has been in place ever since elections in 2015 were annulled by the Cameroon National Sports and Olympic Committee’s arbitration chamber. That decision was then confirmed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

A group of clubs supported a complaint that Cameroon FA president Tombi A Roko had been appointed rather than elected and that FIFA were supporting his position in contravention of their own statutes. CAS agreed and eventually FIFA appear to have respected that ruling but imposed a normalisation committee. That may prove to be a politically convenient route to stripping the country of the 2019 hosting.

Despite the off-field problems, Cameroon won this year’s AFCON but has been open to exposure ever since Issa Hayatou was replaced by Ahmad Ahmad as head of the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

Members of the normalisation committee are expected to be named shortly and will act as an electoral committee though “none of its members will be eligible for any of the open positions in the elections,” said FIFA.

The current impasse seems likely to boost Morocco’s chances of stepping in as AFCON hosts. The Moroccans recently announced they are bidding for the 2026 World Cup but seem far more likely to stage Africa’s flagship regional tournament. Morocco have worked hard at becoming a close ally of Ahmad having paid for a number for a number of CAF meetings and events in the country.

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