By Andrew Warshaw
December 14 – In a hugely embarrassing snub to the leadership of African football, the Ivorian Football Federation (FIF) has carried out its threat and has appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport against the decision to strip it of hosting rights for 2021 African Cup of Nations.
Last week the FIF, awarded 2021 over four years ago, reacted furiously to the Confederation of African Football’s decision to hand the event to Cameroon seemingly for no other reason than Cameroon itself was stripped of next year’s AFCON.
Such an arrangement triggered an immediate domino effect with the Ivory Coast dropping back to 2023 in place of Guinea.
CAF president Ahmad Ahmad has argued that just like Cameroon wasn’t ready for next year – the first AFCON to be expanded to 24 teams – so Ivory Coast is behind in its preparations for 2021. But that didn’t wash with the Ivorians who said they “deplored this way of proceeding” and issued a strong rebuke against Ahmad’s behaviour in appealing to CAS.
The federation it was “surprised to learn that the president of CAF (Ahmad Ahmad) decided on his own authority, without any prior consultation … to reassign the 2021 edition, which was entrusted until then to the Ivory Coast, to Cameroon.”
“The preparation and work required to organise this great competition, which is particularly important for all Ivorian football and the Ivory Coast, constitutes important economic, financial and human investment.”
Ahmad, already under fire from Cameroon (the country of his predecessor Issa Hayatou) has indicated that the Ivory Coast has now been offered the hosting rights for 2023 but that would mean Guinea missing out, a set of circumstances that illustrate once again the bitter regional divisions in African football.
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