Tight squeeze as CAF gives Safa five days to submit bid
Safa has five days to submit its bid to host next year’s Afcon tournament.
On Friday, CAF said that countries interested in bidding had to submit their bid books by midnight on Friday, Cairo time.
Safa acting chief executive Russell Paul confirmed that the association had received the request for application documents to host, which CAF distributed to all its member associations this week.
“Given the tight deadline, we’ll try to set up a meeting with Sports Minister Tokozile Xasa on Monday [tomorrow] or Tuesday,” Paul told City Press on Friday.
Xasa hinted that South Africa would be keen on a deal that was “favourable and reasonable, with a good return on investment”. However, Safa had to first provide full details so that she could brief Cabinet.
“I was very clear to them that if they [CAF] come to us, let it appear that it is an offer,” said Xasa. “It must not be like we are bidding. With bidding, there are costs. As it is, we have no clue of what it will cost. We are waiting for Safa to bring that up. Looking into it, Afcon 2019 is even bigger than it used to be and it means there will definitely be some costs involved.”
Paul maintained that there were no bidding costs involved.
“What CAF is basically asking is if we have the capacity to host,” he said.
Xasa recently accompanied Netball SA to Singapore, where South Africa made its presentations on its bid to host the 2023 Netball World Cup.
“With netball, we have not asked for money from Cabinet,” she said. “The partners and sponsors that are already there would not want us to go and ask Treasury to fund us for that.
“While looking from the side of hosting – the jobs that will be created and the kind of foreign direct investment that will get into the country – those become critical in terms of what the return on the investment would be,” Xasa said.
Following Safa’s annual general meeting last weekend, its members gave the national executive committee a mandate to proceed with the Afcon bid.
“CAF is looking for a plug-and- play solution, but it costs money, and we need to finalise and communicate those kinds of issues with government and whoever is going to support the opportunity,” said Paul.
He insisted that the Afcon bid would “be very much in line with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s desire to attract additional revenue into the country to assist with economic growth”.
CAF said it would announce the short list from Saturday, which would then be followed by on-site visits to complete the evaluation of applications.
Once the technical evaluation phase has been completed, the CAF executive committee would decide who replaces Cameroon as the new host.
The west African country was stripped of the hosting rights last week, with CAF citing delays in preparations for the continental showpiece that runs from June 15 to July 13.
It will be the first time that Afcon features 24 teams, up from an initial 16. After intimating that it would be interested in bidding, Egypt, where CAF’s headquarters are based, pulled out of the race this week.
This move leaves South Africa and Morocco as the only countries on the continent who seem to be capable of hosting a 24-team tournament. While the north African country boasts some world-class infrastructure, South Africa might have an edge due to infrastructure constructed for the 2010 World Cup. However, this will depend more on government’s willingness to host yet another big sporting event, taking into account the costs versus the benefits thereof.