Caf rejects Morocco pleas for Afcon postponement over Ebola crisis

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The deadly disease has killed more than 4,000 people in Africa but next year’s host nation has been declined in its request to delay it from going ahead

The African Football Confederation (Caf) has rejected the Moroccan government’s plea to postpone the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) amid the spiralling Ebola health crisis.

The biennial international tournament is due to be hosted in the north west African country in January and February 2015.

However, there have been calls from some for qualifiers against afflicted countries – Sierra Leone and Guinea are among those competing for a place in next year’s finals – to be postponed over Ebola concerns.

Morocco, 2015’s host nation, has so far avoided any cases of the disease and its health ministry says “to avoid events which involve those countries affected by the Ebola virus” it wants the tournament to be postponed until a later date.

But Caf is refusing to delay the competition, which has qualifiers currently under way to decide the 15 available spots for the finals, though claims further talks will be held in November with the football governing body’s chief to explore safety options.

“Caf has registered the request and wishes to state that there are no changes of the schedules of its competitions and events,” it said in a statement.

“It must be noted that since the first edition in 1957, the Africa Cup of Nations has never witnessed a deferral or a change in schedule.

“Caf has been cautious since the commencement of the final round qualifiers of the Africa Cup of Nations on the health risks posed by the Ebola virus and has consistently applied precautionary principles, taking into account the recommendations of the World Health Organisation and various medical experts.

“The request of the Moroccan government will be discussed at the next meeting of the Caf executive committee scheduled for November 2 2014.

“Subsequently, a meeting will be organised between Caf and the Moroccans in Rabat on November 3 2014 and the Caf delegation will be led by its president, Issa Hayatou.”

The current outbreak of the disease is the worst in recorded history, with over 4,000 people having been killed by the untreatable virus.

The virus has largely been contained within west Africa, but cases of people being diagnosed with Ebola outside of the continent are becoming more common and there are fears that the crisis could go global.

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