Tight squeeze as CAF gives Safa five days to sub­mit bid

CityPress - - Sport - DANIEL MOTHOWA­GAE daniel.mothowa­[email protected]­press.co.za

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.

Danny Jor­dan

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