Morocco has been selected as one of the hosts for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament, marking their return as hosts after last hosting the event in 1988. The country was initially chosen to host the tournament in 2015 but requested a postponement due to the Ebola virus, leading to the hosting rights being revoked by the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
The bid for the 2025 edition of AFCON was expected to be awarded to Morocco, but the sudden withdrawal of Algeria from the 2027 race created an opportunity for other contenders. Ultimately, the joint bid by Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda received approval from the CAF executive committee, bringing the tournament back to East Africa for the first time since Ethiopia hosted the finals in 1976.
CAF president, Patrice Motsepe, expressed pride in Morocco’s previous hosting experience and highlighted the withdrawal of competing countries Algeria, Zambia, and Nigeria-Benin, who still made their presentations despite pulling out. Motsepe explained that the withdrawal was motivated by Algeria’s desire to support Morocco’s bid for the 2030 FIFA World Cup, which they intend to co-host with Spain and Portugal.
Africa Cup of Nations
While Morocco boasts world-class stadiums and a successful track record in hosting football tournaments, Kenya and Tanzania each have only one international-standard venue, and Uganda does not have any. This limitation forced the Ugandan national team to play their 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers at neutral venues. Motsepe emphasized that one of the key objectives behind the decision to award hosting rights to the East African trio is to promote infrastructure development and generate enthusiasm among young people.
The timing of the tournament has been a subject of discussion, as it falls in the middle of the European club season, requiring star players such as Mohamed Salah, Andre Onana, and Victor Osimhen to temporarily leave their respective clubs. However, the CAF president stated that the decision to hold the tournament in January and February 2024 was made to avoid disruptions caused by inclement weather during the rainy season in West Africa.
The Africa Cup of Nations has evolved from a three-team tournament in 1957 to a 24-team event since 2019, attracting a global TV audience. Egypt holds the record for the most titles with seven, followed by Cameroon with five and Ghana with four. The upcoming edition, set to take place in five Ivorian cities, will feature the top 16 African countries based on the latest FIFA rankings, including Morocco, who reached the semi-finals of the 2022 World Cup.