The Ebola epidemic has put the fear of the devil in all it has touched and Football has not been spared. Right now there is a real danger that Afcon 2015 may not take place at all after Morocco withdrew its right to host.
Morocco like all else is scared to hell and will not listen to any ultimatums from Caf or anyone suggesting the tournament proceeds as planned in January 2015.
They fear that it shall be impossible to eliminate the possibility of transmission if thousands of fans pour in from all over Africa.
And admittedly a country like Morocco that is heavily dependent on the income from tourism ought to pay careful attention to anything that threatens to keep its visitors away. So such caution is appreciated if not understood.
But there is a whiff of hypocrisy to be caught in the double – standard of hosting the World Club Cup in November and turning down Afcon. This appears like an admission by Moroccan authorities that fans from African countries carry more of a threat than those from say Spain home of the European champions Real Madrid.
The undeniable fact here is that Ebola has killed thousands in Africa and despite heroic efforts all over is threatening to be propelled out of control in countries like Liberia and Sierra Leone.
But the last time I checked cases were being diagnosed in more sophisticated places like Spain itself. Ebola is practically a global problem.
So Morocco’s risks turning out as a nation that confessed it prefers European, Asian, and South American fans milling around freely on the streets of Marrakesh Rabat Ragdir and Tangier as opposed to those from Africa. This makes it a political rather than a matter of public health.
And this is why Afcon’s decision to move on, ban Morocco and look for a new host is to be applauded.
It quickly draws the matter away from politics straight back to football. Yes next week’s draw-deadline may come too soon and we have since learnt that Ghana and South Africa have said ‘no-thanks’, but as a statement of intent I buy into it completely.
In any case an event this lucrative will have no shortage of suitors. And Algeria Angola Egypt Gabon Nigeria are already being lined up. Nigeria will probably jump at the bit seeing their qualification is not cast in stone yet. Anyway whoever it is that finally hosts, they will deliver a massive credibility boost to Caf, who shall be applauded for being quick and decisive.
Yes, the threat of Ebola is real but experience has shown in very many countries that it isn’t something that caution can’t mitigate. Morocco could have put up criminal-level screening of fans and we would have all understood. Instead they took the ill-aice of localizing this problem and they have come off as rather segregative. That isn’t good for Tourism either and now they have a fresh, if not bigger problem that they must deal with.
The rest of us can now return to the small matter of qualifying. It shall be interesting to see how the dynamics of the group from which the new host will be plucked will change, and how that will affect everyone else.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor