JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Guinea has been stripped of the right to host the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations final and bidding for the tournament is set to reopen on Saturday, the Confederation of African Football said on Saturday.
This follows a meeting in Conakry on Friday between Guinea’s interim president, Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, and the president of African football’s governing body, Patrice Motsepe, to discuss the withdrawal after the African country of West, among the poorest on the continent, said it was not ready to host the 24-nation tournament.
“I traveled to Guinea out of respect for the people of Guinea to discuss CAF’s willingness to advise and work with football stakeholders to build and build football infrastructure and facilities in this country, in light of CAF’s decision not to proceed with AFCON 2025 in Guinea,” Motsepe said in a statement.
Although just announced, the decision was made as early as June, sources told Reuters.
The CAF executive committee will meet in Algiers on Saturday and take a decision to reopen the bidding process for the 2025 tournament, the CAF statement said.
In 2014, Guinea initially secured the hosting rights for the 2023 final, along with Cameroon (2019) and Ivory Coast (2021).
But Cameroon were stripped of the right to host the 2019 tournament as they were not ready, with Egypt replacing them. Cameroon were then awarded the 2021 tournament, which finally took place earlier this year after a year-long postponement due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ivory Coast was due to host the next tournament in mid-2023, but that was moved to early 2024 after concerns over the weather at this time of year in the region.
The expansion of the Nations Cup final to 24 teams in 2019 meant Guinea’s scarce infrastructure was always going to be stretched and the decision comes as no surprise.
The country suffered a coup a year ago when special forces commander Doumbouya overthrew President Alpha Condé. A year earlier, Condé had changed the constitution to circumvent limits that would have prevented him from running for a third term, sparking widespread rioting.
Doumbouya became interim president and promised a transition to democratic elections within three years.
The 15-member Economic Community of West African States rejected the timetable and imposed sanctions on junta members and their relatives, including freezing their bank accounts.
In July, the regional bloc gave Guinea until October 22 to establish a “reasonable” timetable, or face additional sanctions.
(Reporting by Mark Gleeson in Johannesburg; Editing by William Mallard)