Coronavirus: CAF Competitions To Hold As Scheduled Despite Global Pandemic

The Confederation of African Football says all its competitions will go ahead as scheduled despite the escalating spread of the coronavirus.

Africa’s football-ruling body in a statement on its website said since no African country “has been declared a high risk” by the World Health Organisation, it has “decided to maintain the schedule of all competitions” while “closely monitoring the evolution of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) around the world and in particular the African continent”.

The statement reads: “According to World Health Organization (WHO), no African country till date has been declared a high risk. Consequently, CAF has decided to maintain the schedule of all competitions.”

CAF, however, said it will consider organising games behind closed doors “on a case-by-case” basis in consultation with member associations which have already employed restrictive measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

“Also, CAF has been informed of the restrictive measures taken by the authorities of some Member Associations and is in contact to find solutions on a case-by-case basis, with the option of the organization of matches behind closed doors,” the statement added.

Upcoming matches include qualifiers for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations later this month and CAF Champions League and Confederation Cup semifinal fixtures.

On Monday, The Gambia coach Thomas Sanfiet called for the 2021 AFCON qualifiers to be postponed as the country won’t be able to call up seven players who are based in Italy.

Italy announced a shut down of the entire country to combat Europe’s worst case of the coronavirus with all but essential travel out of the country banned.

There have also been concerns raised over the 2020 African Nations Championship (CHAN) after host nation Cameroon announced two cases of the coronavirus last week.

CAF says a delegation its Medical Committee will visit the Central African nation from 14-15 March “to assess all the preventive measures taken by the Local Organizing Committee”.

The competition is scheduled for 4-25 April 2020.

Africa has been relatively spared from the worst of the coronavirus pandemic with 100 cases announced in 11 countries including Nigeria, Cameroon, South Africa, Egypt, Burkina Faso, Morocco, Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal, Tunisia, Togo and Algeria.

Egypt with 59 confirmed cases account for over half of infected patients.

The disease, which can cause a fever, cough and breathing problems, is spreading around the world and has already affected more than 116,000 people.