CAF cancels U17 AFCON due to COVID-19 challenges

LONDON, (SATSports) – The Confederation of African Football (CAF) on Monday announced the cancellation of the Under-17 Africa Cup of Nations just days before its scheduled kick-off in Morocco.

Morocco was due to host the 14th edition of the tournament in the cities of Rabat, Mohammedia and Casablanca from March 13-31.

The decision was made following a meeting of CAF’s Emergency Committee in the Moroccan capital Rabat.

A statement released by CAF cited a resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic, increased restrictions on international travel and an uncertain outlook surrounding the existing health situation.

“The Committee was made aware of the constraints faced by some of the participating member associations as well as the host country including the fact that the coronavirus pandemic continues to present significant challenges for the organization of international sporting events,” CAF said.

There have, however, been recent challenges in organizing international matches, such as the CAF Champions League, in Morocco due to COVID-19-related issues which resulted in the matches being hosted outside the country.

The decision follows the one in December last year taken by FIFA to cancel this year’s Under-17 World Cup due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That cancellation meant the U-17 AFCON no longer served its purpose as a qualifier for the global tournament. The next edition of the U-17 World Cup will take place in 2023 in Peru.

The news is a blow to CAF which had successfully staged two continental tournaments this year: the Africa Nations Championship (CHAN), in Cameroon, and Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations, in Mauritania.

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