Violence-plagued Libya conceded it won't be able to host the African Cup of Nations in 2017 because of security concerns, throwing organizers into a frantic rush Saturday to find a new venue for the continent's top football tournament.
After announcing Libya's withdrawal as host, the Confederation of African Football gave countries interested in hosting in Libya's place until the end of September — barely a month — to submit their bids.
Algeria, Cameroon, Guinea, Ivory Coast and Zambia had already been shortlisted as possible hosts for the 2019 and 2021 tournaments and may consider bringing their plans forward two years. South Africa, which stood in for Libya last year when the north African country was initially meant to host the 2013 African Cup, may also become a short-notice candidate again.
The 16-team African Cup needs a minimum of four suitable stadiums to meet its criteria, but also has the added challenge now of quickly finding a host that has other essential facilities already in place with the January-February tournament just over two years away.
Host nations normally get four years to prepare.
"Considering the limited time left for the organization of the 2017 edition, the CAF executive committee will select a host country whose dossier guarantees that accommodation, transportation and hotels facilities, as well as training sites and stadiums, already exist," CAF said in a statement on Saturday.
Africa's top football body said it was informed that Libya was withdrawing as host at a meeting Friday at CAF headquarters in Cairo. Libya's sports minister and football federation head were present at the meeting and told CAF President Issa Hayatou they were backing out, CAF said.
Continue reading this story on the...