Caf must make SA an Afcon offer we can't refuse‚ says sport minister Xasa

Sports Minister Tokozile Xasa.
Sports Minister Tokozile Xasa.
Image: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

South Africa has an appetite to host the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) but will not be drawn into a bidding process.

Minister of sport Tokozile Xasa confirmed on Friday that the government was keen to host the tournament but was waiting for the South African Football Association (Safa) to give it more information.

Cameroon was stripped of the rights to host the tournament last week‚ and Xasa was clear that the Confederation of African Football (Caf) had to make an offer to the South African government to host the competition because a bid would come with costs.

“As of now‚ we have no information and we have no clue what it will cost, but we are waiting for Safa to bring us all the information. But we are keen to host the tournament‚” Xasa said on Friday.

“I was very clear to them [Safa] that if they [Caf] want us to host‚ it must be an offer. It must not be like we are bidding, because with bidding there are costs and all of that.

“It must be very clear that South Africa is not offering to bid for this tournament. We do have the stadium infrastructure‚ which will cut costs hosting the tournament‚ and hotels that are ready.”

Caf said in a statement on Friday that it was requesting applications from member associations who were interested in hosting the tournament.

The continental body said: “Member associations interested in bidding must submit their bid books to Caf by midnight on Friday December 14.

“From December 15 2018‚ Caf will make a shortlist announcement‚ request further information from bidders and make possible on-site visits to complete the evaluation of applications.”

Xasa said that after a briefing by Saf, the matter would be taken to the Cabinet for deliberations and approval.

“The tournament is bigger than what it used to be [expanded next year from 16 to 24 teams] and there will be costs involved‚” she said.

“But we are saying that if it is favourable and there will be a return on the investment, South Africa continues to be open to hosting big events. We will look at it‚ see how it is and take it to present to Cabinet.

“We have asked Safa to bring us what it entails because without knowing we would not be able to take it to Cabinet. When we talk [about] major events being hosted by the country‚ it cuts across all sectors. We must be able to present before Cabinet what they can consider to be favourable and affordable.

“When we went to Singapore to bid for Cape Town to host the Netball World Cup‚ we did not ask for money from Cabinet. Netball is smaller‚ although it is a World Cup in 2023, but as part of departmental‚ provincial and city allocations we will be able to cover a lot of ground. We will not ask Treasury to fund us.”

Xasa said that politics would always have an influence in sport.

“If you look at the world today‚ national bodies exist within the law and mandate of the country. So‚ there is that relationship that must be built between ourselves and organisations that run sport.

“Politics have a big influence. If you have to bring the World Cup, heads of state often will come. Are you saying you don’t want us as politicians? Who is going to take care of all of that?

“There is some form of influence and you can’t run away from that‚ but critically [to determine] is to what extent.”

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