A definite date for the 2021 edition of the African Nations Cup (AFCON) has been fixed with the tournament now be to held from 9 January to 6 February.
CAF president Ahmad Ahmad hinted about a possible change in dates from June/July when he cited prevailing local climatic conditions in an interview with insideworldfootball.com last year.
Following a networking meeting between the Local Organising Committee and members of CAF executive committee led by Ahmad on Wednesday, Cameroon’s sports minister Moelle Kombi, who also doubles as the LOC chairman confirmed the shift in dates.
Kombi said unfavourable weather conditions with the country experiencing torrential rainfalls in June and July was responsible for the shift.
“We want to say straight away, here, loud and clear, in Cameroon, that throughout the territory, from North to South, from East to West, that the period from June to September – I speak under the control of the director of meteorology […] – corresponds to the great rainy season,” afriquefoot.rfi.fr quoted Kombi as saying.
CAF confirmed that the change has been made at the request of the host nation.
“Indeed, faced with the unfavourable climatic conditions during the period initially fixed, [the LOC] wanted to review it,” CAF said on Wednesday.
“After having heard the various arguments, in particular, those of the meteorological officials of Cameroon, and the representatives of coaches and players, the AFCON Organizing Committee, which received the mandate from the CAF Executive Committee to decide, acceded favourably to this request.
“A detailed report will be presented to the members of the Executive Committee at the next meeting scheduled for February 6, 2020.”
The change in dates highlights the disorderly nature of decision making at the Confederation of African Football (CAF) who only two years ago decided to stage the tournament permanently in June/July from the traditional January/February dates without taking into consideration the vagaries of the continent’s weather patterns.
CAF’s move then was praised by European clubs relieved that the incessant club versus country rows thrown up by having to release players in the middle of the season were now firmly a thing of the past.
Those rows are now likely to resume.
Ahmad had also said the shift to January/February would preserve the integrity of the AFCON following FIFA’s move to stage the revamped Club World Cup in the summer of 2021.
According to FIFA, the revamped Club World Cup would begin on 17 June and end on 4 July, which would have been five days before the scheduled start of the AFCON.