Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) president and Chairperson of the CAF Organising Committee for Women’s Football, Isha Johansen has explained the reasons why CAF decided to scrap the 2020 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations (AWCON).
The Executive Committee of CAF cancelled AWCON following its virtual meeting last month which meant that the competition will not be staged for the first time since 1998.
“Women’s football means a lot to CAF. There were circumstances that were beyond our control which made it difficult for CAF to organise it and don’t get me wrong here, all options were explored but to no avail,” said Johansen.
“Firstly, the withdrawal of Congo, (in July 2019). it meant that we had to look for a new host and the bid was reopened, and we received bids from Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea.
“However both bids lacked the most important support document – that document being a letter of support from their respective governments and if you can’t get a letter of support from your government to host a country it becomes quite complex, problematic in the long run because we cannot organise a competition without the support or (government) guarantee from the host country.
“The second point is the outbreak of Covid-19… due to that fact, the qualifiers scheduled for April 2020 had to be postponed indefinitely and with women’s AFCON being a senior women’s national team competition, we can only schedule matches based on the FIFA calendar dates and which was also affected by Covid.
“Again, due to the Covid-19 the women’s calendar was revised and it left us with two window opportunities being in September and October for the qualifiers.
“And then, of course, we have the qualifiers for the FIFA Under 17 women’s World Cup and the FIFA U20 which had to be completed this year so it is not a case of not being able to meet the expectations of people or we just decided to take an easy way out to cancel the women’s 2020 AFCON just because it’s the women’s football but because there are obvious reasons and circumstances beyond our control.
“As much as this may come as shocking news or disappointing news, again it is based on a current global situation and it got nothing to do with another agenda other than the fact that we simply cannot host the competition during the abnormal times now.
“CAF even allocated a substantial amount to support the host country to organise the final tournament, but no country is forthcoming yet and why is that? It’s because of the Covid-19,” concluded Johansen.
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By Tokelo Martin Mokhesi