Libya lost the rights to host the 2017 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals today, citing the country’s “unstable security situation” due to ongoing conflicts and political volatility in the nation.
Libya has been plagued with turmoil since 2011 following the downfall of former leader Muammar Gaddafi’s regime. The country has failed to recover from the political instability that engulfed the nation ever since.
The African nation was originally scheduled to hold the AFCON in 2013, but swapped with the 2017 host country South Africa as the former grappled with civil war.
Just last year, the Libyan government expressed its hope of hosting the continental tournament as it would allow the country to demonstrate to Africa and in extension, the world, that normalcy had prevailed in the country, so as to attract foreign investments. Such was their dedication to the cause that the North African country had been planning to build 11 stadiums amassing a total cost of $314 million – including a new 60,000-seat Austrian-built stadium in Tripoli, on the site of a former military camp.
Moreover, former World Cup winner Franz Beckenbauer had earlier accepted a role as an ‘ambassador’ to aid in championing the tournament as well as the country itself, while former Spain coach Javier Clemente was hired by the nation to prepare their team for the tournament.
The decision was made after a delegation from the Libyan FA had traveled to Confederation of African Football’s (CAF) headquarters in Cairo earlier this week to justify their case in vain, as it turns out. CAF further invited new bidders for the tournament, as was declared on the body’s Twitter account. The deadline for submission for new applications to host the tournament is September 30, 2014.
Just days prior, the African continent was rocked by another potential continental soccer scare after rumors emerged that FIFA would snatch away Morocco’s chance of hosting the Club World Cup scheduled in December. As the continent struggles to contain the Ebola epidemic that has pervaded West Africa, there were fears FIFA would change the venue of the event citing health concerns.
“The health of players, officials and fans is a top priority in any FIFA competition,” said the world soccer body in a statement.
“According to the World Health Organization, there are currently no reported cases of Ebola in Morocco. Therefore, there is no need to discuss a possible change in the host country. If the situation were to change, we will be in contact with the participating clubs,” it concluded.