Cairo, Reuters—Morocco has been stripped of the right to host next year’s African Nations Cup, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) decided on Tuesday as it examined prospective replacements. It has also disqualified Morocco from playing in the finals, which CAF said would go ahead as planned on the scheduled dates of January 17–February 8.
Morocco’s removal as hosts follows the north African country’s request for a postponement of the tournament over fears of the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.
Morocco believes thousands of traveling supporters from West Africa pose a risk and wanted a postponement of at least six months while the fight against Ebola intensified.
But CAF rejected any change to the planned dates citing a packed calendar. They gave Morocco an ultimatum of Saturday to withdraw their request, which was rejected.
CAF said it had received “a few applications from national associations confirming their desire to host the 2015 finals on the dates agreed.”
But it did not name any of them. No country has made any public expression of interest.
CAF said it would now study the applications and finalize the selection of new hosts “shortly” but did not give a date.
It will also confirm a date and venue for the draw ceremony, which had been scheduled for Rabat in Morocco on November 26.
African soccer’s governing body said it would seek legal redress from Morocco based on its contractual agreement with the Royal Moroccan Football Federation which was signed in April.
Moroccan football is also likely to be heavily sanctioned.
CAF’s executive committee, meeting in Cairo, also confirmed the qualifying matches set for this weekend and next Wednesday, to determine the 2015 finalists, would go ahead as planned.