By Andrew Warshaw
September 25 – After weeks of deliberation and speculation, Kenya has been stripped of the right to host the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) following last weekend’s Confederation of African Football (CAF) executive committee meeting in Accra led by CAF leader Ahmad Ahmad.
CAF said the decision, a crushing blow for the east African country, was made “in light of accumulated delays from reports of the various inspection missions conducted in the country.”
The 16-team tournament for domestically-based players only is scheduled to take place between 12 January and 4 February 2018.
A CAF inspection team visited Kenya, which was awarded hosting rights three years ago, from 11-17 September and found that only one of the four venues was ready to stage the event.
Football Kenya Federation (FKF) insists “it did everything humanly possible to ensure that CHAN 2018 became a reality both to Kenyans and the entire East African Region.”
It went on to admit that “unfortunately, lack of up-to standard infrastructure to host the competition and the need to improve the existing ones, meant that Kenya would inevitably play second fiddle to better placed countries that have invested heavily on infrastructure development over the years.”
A Kenyan delegation headed by federation president Nick Mwendwa and sports permanent secretary Kirimi Kaberia reportedly made a last-ditch effort to persuade CAF to rule in their favour but to no avail. African football chiefs also expressed grave concern about political instability in the country following the recently annulled presidential elections that are set to be re-run next month.
The move sparked an immediate slanging match between the Kenyan FA and government officials over who was responsible amid calls for Mwendwa to resign.
It is the second time Kenya has lost the right to stage an African football competition after being replaced by South Africa as hosts of the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations, the continent’s flagship event. CAF say a new bidding process will be opened immediately with Morocco and Ivory Coast likely to be among the interested parties.
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