Covid-19 claims another tournament as AFCON postponed to 2022
The 2021 men’s African Cup of Nations, the continent’s national teams competition, has been postponed until January 2022 because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, while this year’s women’s version has been cancelled entirely for the same reason.
The men’s edition was due to take place from 9 January to 6 February in Cameroon, but reports last month had suggested a postponement of the tournament was close at hand.
The tournament will still take place in Cameroon as originally scheduled.
Ahmad Ahmad, president of the Confederation of African Football, said: “Health is our number one priority. We must remain vigilant.”
The tournament will now take place in the same year as the next Fifa World Cup, in Qatar, something which last happened in 2010, and which then resulted in the AFCON being moved to odd-numbered years specifically to avoid similar clashes in future.
With four rounds still remaining in the Cup of Nations qualifiers, when the pandemic struck, in addition to the playoffs, the chances of the competition taking place on time have looked slim for the last few months.
In March, CAF launched invitations to tender for TV services and marketing services for the 2021 AFCON but a postponement is likely to give interested parties more time to submit bids.
It was announced earlier this year that the competition would switch back to the northern hemisphere winter for next year’s scheduled edition after it was moved from January and February to June and July for the 2019 competition in Egypt (won by Algeria), thereby avoiding clashes with top European leagues.
The list of pan-national soccer tournaments to have been displaced by the pandemic in the last few months also includes this year's Uefa European Championships and South America’s Copa America, which have both been moved back to 2021 and as result of the former, the 2021 Uefa Women’s European Championships will now be played in 2022.
The cancellation of the women’s AFCON, meanwhile, which had been provisionally scheduled for November and December this year, is unsurprising, given that the tournament had not yet been allocated a host, and no qualifiers had been played.