Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
COSAFA president Philip Chiyangwa is walking the talk and has written to CAF leader Ahmad Ahmad to officially protest over the manner in which the hosting rights for the African Cup of Nations were handled by the continental body’s previous leadership and is seeking a review.
Chiyangwa says there is something wrong in how former CAF president Issa Hayatou’s regime awarded the hosting rights of four successive editions of the Nations Cup to countries from one region. Hayatou also controversially stripped the right to host the CAF Under-17 tournament from Madagascar and tasked Gabon with staging the youth competition.
Yesterday, Chiyangwa followed up on the meeting they had with Ahmad by officially writing to the CAF president to submit COSAFA’s protest and call for a review of the process.
The Harare property mogul has a grand vision in which he wants the zone to play a more influential role in the administration and development of the continental game and not just be recognised as the biggest bloc in African football numerically.
“The Council of Southern Africa Football Associations writes to congratulate you on your recent election as CAF president with a resounding victory in Addis Ababa. We are proud that COSAFA has produced a CAF president against all odds.
“President, we wish to bring to your immediate attention the following issues which arose during the COSAFA presidents meeting of 7th April, 2017 in Johannesburg:
“1. CAF decision to remove the African Cup of Nations U-17 tournament from Madagascar and allocating the same to Gabon.
“We wish to place on record our displeasure in the manner this matter was handled as it was clear that the decision to replace Madagascar was not due to football-related reasons. It is our considered view that in awarding the hosts for the same tournament consideration should have been given to COSAFA members to replace Madagascar as opposed to nominating Gabon who have already hosted the senior Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament in January and February 2017,’’ wrote Chiyangwa.
Chiyangwa, who is also the ZIFA president, highlighted in his letter to Ahmad that COSAFA was not amused with the decision by the previous CAF leadership to overlook all the other regions when naming the hosts for the 2019, 2021 and 2023 Nations Cup tournaments.
“We wish to draw your attention to the above and note with grave concern that the AFCON 2015 was held in Equatorial Guinea, 2017 in Gabon, 2019 has been allocated to Cameroon, 2021 has been allocated to Cote d’Ivoire and 2023 to Guinea.
“It is inconceivable that five tournaments in a row can be hosted in one region of Africa. This clearly shows the insensitivity and provides the unnecessary imbalance in CAF member interests. It is on this basis of the foregoing that COSAFA demands that the process of awarding the hosting rights for 2019, 2021 and 2023 be subjected to a new and transparent evaluation process.
“We have received strong interest from COSAFA members willing to participate in the new bids. It is our expectation that an independent team of experts be constituted immediately to undertake this exercise so that there is an equitable and fair distribution of hosting rights for AFCON which remains the flagship for CAF.
“We submit for your urgent consideration our concerns,’’ read part of the letter.
Chiyangwa also said COSAFA would be looking at how its members could best benefit from FIFA’s recent decision to give Africa nine places at World Cups from 2026 onwards and to be better represented in CAF’s committees and competitions.
The COSAFA boss had before officially writing to CAF also told the media that his region had the right to ask questions where they felt shortchanged by the continental body’s leadership.
“These were politically, aggressively awarded wherein one region benefits from all competitions,” he said in reference to the 2019 finals in Cameroon, 2021 in Cote d’Ivoire and 2023 in Guinea.
“This is our continent and our Africa and we have the right to ask questions and where we feel that we have been abused, we just have to do what we did. In these circumstances we are questioning the status quo; the locating of all interests in one region.’’
The meeting between COSAFA and Ahmad was the first since the CAF president swept to power in the March 16 election in Addis Ababa that ended Hayatou’s 29-year tight grip on the continental game.
Chiyangwa and SAFA president Danny Jordaan were among the leading voices in the campaign to land the outgoing Madagascar Football Federation president in the hot seat with the ZIFA boss being Ahmad’s campaign manager.
Meanwhile, the COSAFA Castle Cup will be played in South Africa’s North West province from June 25 to July 9, while the regional Under-20 competition will be staged from December 1-10 at the same venue.
Mauritius will host the COSAFA Under-17 Championship from July 21-30, while the Women’s Championship is set to be staged in Zimbabwe from September 13-24.