A sudden turn of events within the Africa Football Confederation, known by its French acronym, CAF whereby officials in an Executive Committee meeting on July 20 in Morocco announced new measures to take effect immediately have left many wondering.
If the decision to increase the number of participating countries from 16 to 24 failed to ruffle Cameroon, declarations over the weekend by CAF President Ahmad Ahmad on Burkina Faso television that he doubted Cameroon’s readiness to host the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, AFCON, is simply strange.
At the time Cameroon has taken firm commitments to engage construction works with internationally reputed companies to provide the required playing grounds for the 2019 AFCON there is national mobilisation to witness another sports bonanza in the country.
Casting doubts in public opinion despite the globally recognised image of Cameroon as a football power house creates room for digression that can scarcely be justified.
International mobilisation from strong football nations like Italy, Spain, France and the United Kingdom and so on with substantial financial and technical support cannot be taken for granted by any sport official.
Such distraction in the past concerning World Cup hosting in Brazil, South Africa etc ended up as futile threats.
Even when the FIFA World Cup started in Brazil in 2014 completion works were still ongoing, yet the competition was a huge success.
Asking Cameroon to be ready two years ahead of time smacks of curiosity given that CAF has clear rules on when nations need to be able to meet the hosting challenge.
When CAF accepted Cameroon’s bid to host the competition in 2014, the number of competing countries at the final stage was 16 and a calendar for the competition well defined.
With less than two years to D-day, CAF has not only changed the rules of the hosting and announced the recruitment of a private firm to carry out the inspection of sites for the competition but went ahead to throw serious doubts on how prepared Cameroon is to meet their new requirements.
Deciding on the institution to inspect infrastructure is within the prerogatives of the Executive Committee of the African Football governing body, but the hasty conclusions drawn by the CAF official carry some unjustified cynicism.
According to Ahmad Ahmad, no location in Cameroon today can host a single group in the AFCON judging from the standards they have imposed.
Yet, he is talking about a country that hosted the Female AFCON in 2016 with brio. Certainly the level and magnitude of the male and female AFCONS defer.
However, everyone knows that the right to host such an international jamboree touches on national pride and inevitably serves as a yardstick for the ability of the hosting country to fulfilled international commitments.
Consequently, it is no longer enough for anyone to justify the alteration of rules in the middle of the competition on grounds of recent electoral victories.
Moreover, most if not all the members of the present Executive Committee of CAF are not new comers in the house. They have been around for decades and were therefore part of the decision to give Cameroon the right to host the event in 2019.
Any modifications now ought to logically affect subsequent tournaments and not the ongoing competition at a time countries are bracing up to start vying for their tickets for Cameroon AFCON 2019.
Such double standards mid way easily lend credence to suspicions of internal complicity for foul play.