By Boris Esono Nwenfor
Despite the overwhelming pressure from the president of the World Football Governing Body (FIFA) Infantino, for the AFCON to be cancelled, CAF President Dr Patrice Motsepe has confirmed that the 33rd edition of the TotalEnergies AFCON 2021 will go as planned on January 9, 2022.
European Club Association have been calling for the AFCON to be cancelled as it falls on a month where it is a peak period for the clubs as some are going for titles. Many of the clubs have several African players who have contributed to the clubs being where they are and according to them, losing the players will be a big blow as some of them may make up to six weeks.
“We will all meet in a few weeks in Cameroon because the AFCON is a tournament for the people of Cameroon and Africa. I am so proud and excited about the work that has been done and you can see that there is a huge commitment to ensuring that some of those issues that are being put that good progress being made,” Dr Patrice Motsepe, CAF president said this December 20, after visiting the Olembe Stadium that will host the opening and closing games of the tournament.
“My message to Africa and the world is that we are going to host in partnership with the government of Cameroon. We are ready to show the world the best of African football but also the best of African hospitality. It is going to be a successful AFCON, the most successful.”
The European Club Association sent a letter to Mattias Grafström, the FIFA Deputy Secretary-General, detailing “three fundamental concerns for clubs when it comes to the release of players to national teams”. Those are ensuring that “every player’s wellbeing is protected”, “that clubs are forced to be without players for club competition matches” and “that all should be allowed to return to their clubs after the tournament in a timely fashion, as per applicable rules”.
“At present, these three principles are at risk of not being respected in connection with the upcoming January releases,” the letter read in part.
This mentality from the European clubs and also from FIFA has been greatly rebutted by football analysts and fans across the African continent who think that if it was a European competition like the Euros or UEFA Nations League, they would not even entertain a cancellation, but Africa should be the ones bending to pressure?
Dr Patrice Motsepe who before coming to Cameroon chaired an extraordinary session of CAF (with members voting to go as planned with the AFCON) said he is expected to be in Cameroon from January 7 and everyone too should be at that date for the competition.
“Come January 9, they (Cameroon) must kick-off. It is also important that we believe in our people; we have to stop being the ones that lack confidence and are always expressing sceptical, negative views of our people. We have to be more optimistic… I am confident and excited; this is the generation that Africans must believe in Africa…”
“We can host a football competition that is as good as those in Europe and the rest of the world. See you when we start on January 9,” CAF president Motsepe concluded.