SA might balk at cost of hosting 2019 Afcon‚ says Safa boss Paul

SA Football Association acting chief executive Russell Paul.
SA Football Association acting chief executive Russell Paul.
Image: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

The South African Football Association might be reluctant to approach the government to bankroll the staging of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) now that it has been stripped from original hosts Cameroon‚ Safa acting CEO Russell Paul has said.

Paul stopped short of saying it was unlikely that Safa would make a bid to host the 2019 tournament‚ but did say that financially the association and the government‚ which would have to bankroll such a hosting‚ might balk at the idea.

Cameroon were stripped of hosting the 2019 Afcon due to delays in preparing‚ the Confederation of African Football (Caf) announced after a 10-hour meeting of their executive in Accra‚ Ghana on Friday night.

South Africa and Morocco have been tipped in the international media to replace Cameroon as hosts of the tournament‚ scheduled for June 15 to July 13.

Paul said an Afcon‚ now expanded from 16 to 24 teams‚ could cost at least R140-million to host.

“Our position is very clear. We've seen Caf's stance that they've taken at their executive meeting‚" the acting Safa CEO said on Saturday in Sandton‚ where the association were holding an extraordinary meeting.

"We are unable to make any form of commitment to anybody because that needs to go through government. Government needs to provide us with some direction.

"But for now‚ firstly‚ no formal approach has been made to South Africa‚ and even if there was we would have to defer to government along those lines.

"Secondly‚ Caf have in any event indicated that there is a new bidding process. So we‚ as South Africa‚ and as Safa‚ can't bid for something that we don't have government approval for."

Paul was asked if Safa have any intention of discussing the prospect of bidding with government.

"It's something that the president [Danny Jordaan] will discuss with the relevant authorities‚ and then make a call‚" he said.

"But‚ I mean‚ its clear that we need to first understand what the bidding process‚ and then we are not in a financial position to put our hand up as things stand now‚ and say 'Yes please‚ bring it here'.”

Jordaan is currently in Accra‚ returning on Sunday morning‚ to view Banyana Banyana in the final of the Africa Women Cup of Nations there against Nigeria on Saturday.

South Africa stepped in to host the 2013 men's Nations Cup when the situation in war-torn Libya left Caf seeking a new host.

Paul said it is difficult for a host country to make its money back on hosting the tournament.

"It's always very expensive. I mean hosting an Afcon in the men‚ considering it's an expanded version‚ you're talking nothing less than US$10-million (R140-million) cost‚" he said.

"In the past you've never had opportunities to commercialise it because all the commercial opportunities sit with Caf. So really that's why we say it's a government investment scenario.

"And you can't even ask government when you're sitting on the social issues within our country. So it's extremely difficult to expect government to just step up every single time."

South Africa also stepped in to host the 1996 Nations Cup after Kenya withdrew as hosts‚ winning that tournament on home soil.

SA remains the only Africa country to host a World Cup‚ in 2010.