CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — The African soccer confederation has removed Guinea as host of the 2025 African Cup of Nations because of inadequate infrastructure, the latest in a series of switches and delays for the continental championship over the last 10 years.
The decision was announced late Friday night and after Confederation of African Football (CAF) president Patrice Motsepe traveled to the country to meet with Col. Mamady Doumbouya, the head of the military junta in Guinea who took power in a coup in 2021.
CAF said its executive committee would meet in Algeria on Saturday to discuss the details of re-opening the bidding process for the 2025 tournament, which might also be put back a year after the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted the African Cup of Nations sequence.
Guinea's hosting of the continental championship had been under scrutiny for weeks after an inspection committee made a visit in early September and determined that Guinea wouldn't be ready. CAF made an internal decision then to strip the West African nation of the tournament but held off making an official announcement until Motsepe's visit.
Last month, Doumbouya had said that the African Cup was still a "priority” for the new military leadership and insisted it should go ahead in Guinea, but it was taken out of his hands. Motsepe said he visited the country on Friday “out of respect to the people of Guinea” before the decision to move the tournament was announced.
In a statement, CAF said the infrastructure and facilities in Guinea were “not ready to host a world class AFCON competition."
The decision means every African Cup since 2013 has been moved because of problems with the original host country.
South Africa stepped in as host for civil war-torn Libya in 2013, Equatorial Guinea was a replacement for Morocco in 2015, Gabon replaced Libya, which still wasn't ready in 2017, Egypt took over for an under-prepared Cameroon in 2019 and Cameroon hosted its tournament three years later than originally planned in 2022, when there was also a one-year delay because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The delay with Cameroon has pushed Ivory Coast's African Cup back to 2024 when it was meant to host in 2021.
The African Cup of Nations is held every two years, although CAF now faces the prospect of holding its biggest tournament on consecutive years in 2024 and 2025 if it keeps to those dates.
Associated Press writers Boubacar Diallo in Conakry, Guinea, and Isifu Wirfengla in Yaounde, Cameroon, contributed to this story.
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Gerald Imray, The Associated Press