Morocco will not hold African Cup of Nation 2015

The decision was announced by the Confederation of African Football, which had accused Morocco of being alarmist. The confederation has noted that the Ebola virus has not been detected in Morocco; few visiting fans were expected; the dates, from Jan. 17 to Feb. 8, fit within an international window on the world soccer calendar; and a postponement could be financially crippling to the regional governing body.

Even under a threat of being barred, Morocco had held firm in its position that it would not host the biennial, 16-team championship as scheduled because of the possibility of a spread of Ebola. It wanted the cup delayed at least until June 2015.

“This decision is motivated mainly by the medical risks that would put this virus on the health of our fellow Africans,” Mohamed Ouzzine, Morocco’s sports minister, said in a statement last weekend.

No new host country has been named, and it remains unclear whether the tournament will proceed as scheduled or be delayed.

The confederation said that it had received “some applications” from nations seeking to host the Cup of Nations on the scheduled dates but did not name them. According to news accounts, South Africa, Egypt and Ghana have said they were not interested.

The final qualifying matches will be held as scheduled this month, CAF said.

The barring of Morocco from the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations was the latest disruption to soccer on the continent in the wake of the Ebola outbreak. Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the West African countries hardest hit by the virus, are prevented from playing any matches at home.

In July, the Seychelles forfeited a match and was barred from participation in further qualifying after it refused to allow Sierra Leone’s team into the island nation.

Sierra Leone’s team has faced chants of “Ebola, Ebola” when it has played in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon. On a recent trip to Cameroon, the players were placed in a hotel that had no other guests. They were also subjected to twice daily checks for Ebola, even though none of the players are based in Sierra Leone or had traveled there since July.


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