Morocco booted from 2015 African Cup for refusing to host over Ebola concerns

teams_morocco_marocmaroc sasn complexesThe Confederation of African Football refused Morocco’s request to postpone the African Cup until 2016 because of fears over the spread of Ebola, which has killed about 5,000 people in West Africa.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: Tuesday, November 11, 2014, 9:34 AM
Updated: Tuesday, November 11, 2014, 9:42 AM
LUC GNAGO/REUTERSBoys stand next to a poster, pertaining to the Ebola virus, during a training session by Sierra Leone’s national soccer team at the Felix Houphouet Boigny stadium in Abidjan, September 5, 2014.

CAIRO (AP) — Morocco was thrown out of the 2015 African Cup of Nations and stripped of its hosting rights Tuesday after refusing to commit to the scheduled dates early next year because of fears over Ebola.

The Confederation of African Football said the tournament would now be hosted by another country. It didn’t announce which one, but said it had received “some applications” to replace Morocco.

CAF said in a statement that the applications from possible replacement hosts were now “under review.”

CAF repeatedly refused Morocco’s request to postpone the African Cup until 2016 because of fears over the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, which has killed about 5,000 people in West Africa. The African soccer body insisted the continent’s showpiece tournament must go ahead on the planned dates of Jan. 17-Feb. 8.

“Having firmly and unanimously notified … its decision to keep the competition on the dates indicated, the executive committee confirmed that the Africa Cup of Nations 2015 will not take place in Morocco,” CAF said.

The body’s decision-making executive committee also decided “that the national team of Morocco is automatically disqualified” because of its “refusal” to host.

CAF will decide on further punishments for Morocco for breaching itscontractual obligations as host, the statement said.

SATURDAY NOV 8 2014 PHOTO, BEST QUALITYWADE WILLIAMS/APThe Ebola virus has killed about 5,000 people in West Africa.

CAF had already approached seven countries to act as possible short-notice hosts, according South Africa, one of the nations on the list. South Africa, Egypt, Sudan and Ghana have all indicated they are unwilling to replace Morocco, partly because of Ebola. Nigeria and Angola have also been mentioned as possible stand-in hosts.

CAF has not named any countries it is considering as a replacement for Morocco.

Morocco wanted the tournament postponed for a year because it feared the possible spread of Ebola through tens of thousands of football supporters traveling for the three-week African Cup. It said over the weekend it wouldn’t stand down over its position, prompting CAF to take the tournament elsewhere.

Morocco is scheduled to host FIFA’s club World Cup next month, featuring Champions League winner Real Madrid. The country said it was willing tocontinue with its hosting duties for that tournament because it didn’t expect many supporters to travel from Ebola-affected regions.

The two African teams playing in the Club World Cup are from Morocco and fellow North African nation Algeria.

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