THE South African Football Association (SAFA) is delighted by the decision of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to award it the rights to host the 29th Edition of the Orange Africa Cup of Nations Final Tournament (AFCON) and the 2014 African Nations Championship.
In 2010, the South African Government granted permission for SAFA to bid to host the 2017 edition of the tournament. SAFA subsequently won the right to host the most prestigious tournament on the African continent.
However, civil strife in Libya jeopardized the staging of the 2013 edition of AFCON and led SAFA to conclude an agreement with the Libyan Football Association to exchange their rights for the 2013 edition for 2017 edition previously awarded to South Africa.
“We thank in particular the Honourable Minister of Sport and Recreation, Mr Fikile Mbalula, for the most influential role he played in swaying the Libyan authorities to exchange their rights for the right to host in 2017. We are pleased to have been part of this historic humanitarian effort to assist the Libyan nation in its attempt to recover from the tragedy that befell them” said SAFA President, Mr Kirsten Nematandani.
We face an extremely congested programme for the Men’s Senior National Team wherein we had to seek qualification for three major international tournaments in the next three years. CAF has changed its AFCON programme that will lead to the tournament being staged in two consecutive years (2012 and 2013). Qualification for the 2013 edition will commence in 2012.
Qualification for the 2014 FIFA World Cup is scheduled to start in June 2012. It was therefore expedient for us to seek to host the 2013 tournament to avoid the strenuous qualifying demands on our national team and the corresponding disruption of our domestic league programme. By hosting in 2013, we will be able to develop a more focused preparation programme for the 2014 FIFA World CupTM and continue to support our strong, commercially viable professional league.
The right to host will ensure that our 2012 qualifying programme would become more manageable as the host qualifies automatically for the tournament and avoids the qualification rounds.
Having hosted the most successful FIFA World CupTM ever, we set out to build on the legacy of our efforts in 2010 and provide additional opportunity for the use of the infrastructure that served the nation so well in 2010. We will also provide additional opportunity for host cities to attract tourists to their sites.
“We plan to meet the Minister of Sport and Recreation upon the SAFA leadership’s return to South Africa on 29 September 2011 to plot the next steps in the daunting task of planning for the continent’s two most prestigious sporting events in consecutive years. However, we believe that South Africans are up to the challenge” said SAFA CEO, Dr Robin Petersen.
We thank the South African public for their continued support of our efforts to develop the sport in our country and to provide jobs and business opportunities through the growth of the sports tourism industry.
Further briefings on our exciting plans to host the best Africa Cup of Nations in history will be announced soon.