Uncertainty about the African Cup of Nations 2015: Ebola is disrupting football

The African Coup of Nations (CAN) is expected to start in three months time, but nobody knows where. Some suggest postponing it, while others want to cancel the competition.-By Lorraine Josiane Manishatse

Emblem of CAN 2015

Emblem of CAN 2015

Morocco was supposed to host CAN 2015 from 17 January to 8 February 2015. The country asked for a postponement on 10 October 2014, because of rising fears of the Ebola virus. The Confederation of African Football (CAF) subsequently asked other countries to replace Morocco.
Hussein El Ouardi, the Minister of Health in Morocco, says that while taking into account the principles of precaution, the Moroccan government can organize CAN 2015 in June this year or even in 2016. “Our decision is justified by the recommendations of the World Health Organization”, Hussein explains. Their decision is supported by Habib Beye, a Senegalese ex-international football player and commentator for Radio France Internationale (RFI). He believes it is best to postpone the tournament. “Playing with people’s health would be irresponsible. Even if the Ebola risk is minimal it is not zero”, he says.

Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia are the countries most affected by Ebola and are dealing with the daily consequences that enter even the football field. The Sierra Leone delegation was stigmatized during the CAN 2015 qualifiers in DRCongo and in Cameroon. “In Cameroon, we were sent to hotels occupied only by Sierra Leoneans because people argue that we are infected with Ebola”, regrets Kei Kamara, a striker for the national team. Guinea and Sierra Leone both have one game left in the group phase of the qualifications.


Concerns about public health have not yet convinced the Confederation of African Football (CAF) of the necessity of a postponement. They are expected to deliver a final decision during a meeting of the executive committee on 2 November in Algeria. CAF has already contacted other countries to host the tournament such as Ghana, South Africa, Gabon and Egypt.
Vincent Enyeama, the Nigeria captain and goalkeeper seeks the annulment of CAN 2015. “Many people will come to Africa to watch the tournament. When you go to Africa, everybody takes you in their hands, which increases the risk to be contaminated with Ebola. I wish for it to be cancelled”, he says.

Henri Bedimo, defender for Olympic Lyonnais, also reacts to the possible postponement of the CAN 2015. “I understand Morocco’s hesitation. Every precaution must be taken. There will be a huge movement of football fans. CAF authorities should implement safety provisions for Morocco. If they confirm that they will not organize the tournament, it can be replaced by another country. By postponing the competition, it will lose its flavor. It either happens in January or it should be cancelled”, Bedimo states.
Révelien Ndikuriyo, the President of Burundi Football Federation (FFB) finds the current preparation to CAN 2015 embarrassing. Football fans wonder if the CAN 2015 will take place or not? Where and when? “They need information, as the expected date is in less than three months. Let’s wait and see what CAF decides”, he concludes.