With the hosts of the AFCON 2017 to be named on Wednesday, Citi Sports editor Nathan Quao shared his thoughts on why Ghana should simply forget about hosting the tournament in two years.
Every nation wants to host a major sporting event and honestly, I believe every nation should strive for that kind of honour and pride.
Diplomatically, it elevates you and places at a point that is almost never forgotten. South Africa found their space in the international system after the brought the Rugby World Cup to their shores in 1995 and followed it up with the AFCON a year later.
They have not looked back since and so, if Ghana wants to host the 2017 AFCON, it is great news. After all, we did it in 2008 and it turned out well.
But 2008 is 7 years ago and we have not bettered ourselves since then.
That is the hard truth and we should not think others have not noticed.
Do we really have the infrastructure?
The former Sports Minister Mahama Ayariga said we had the infrastructure already in place but they needed some dusting up.
At face value, yes. The stadia are there but they are not in a state to host the rest of the continent.
Washrooms are in a very poor state and that is at the base of the pyramid of problems.
Further up, scoreboards are at the Accra Sports Stadium have not worked in a while because maintenance has been minimal or completely zero and there is not even electricity to power them.
Floodlights are no better and the situation is so poor that a GHALCA Top 4 match between Hearts of Oak and Heart of Lions in September 2014 had to be stopped at dusk because visibility was poor.
That is the Accra Sports Stadium we are talking about. The ground that will be the nerve centre of the tournament and it sits in the eye of the current energy crisis.
The tournament might be two or so years away but it still does not make the threat of major challenges occult to our thoughts now.
Some might say, “Mr. Quao, what about hotels?” We do have them in abundance but these facilities are never dependent on sporting events.
They will have clients whether there is football or not. In any case, they make more money when the football is full swing.
I really do not see how that factor really helps the bones of a hosting bid.
If we believe we do not have to spend a lot on getting ready, the we should think again.
Have we even thought of the impact of renovating the stadia for the tournament if we still stubbornly think we are two steps away from being ready?
Let’s look at this scenario.
The AFCON will be played in January/ February 2017 meaning we either have to stop playing the local league to make way for works on the stadia in Accra, Kumasi, Tamale and Essipong or we have to move the matches around.
The numerous administrative challenges that come with sharing grounds and changing kick off times might be too complex for us to handle now.
The other option is that we stop playing the league and that leaves locally-based players very inactive and their chances of featuring for the Black Stars are left in single digits less than five.
The realisation hits you hard and you see how the science of hosting a tournament is not as easy as some make it seem.
This is what I think: we should let it go.
We are not ready to host the 2017 AFCON. We might start a chain reaction that will be too difficult to handle.
We have put together a very strong delegation and here they are:
Ernest Thompson, the Chairman, who also doubles as the Director of SNNIT, Abedi Pele, the vice Chairman, Fred Crentsil – GFA Vice President, Randy Abbey, Herbert Mensah (Football Administrator and businessman), Dr. Nyaho Nyaho Tamakloe, Lepowura MND Jawula, Nana Sam Brew Butler (All former GFA Chairmen), Alex Mould (CEO of GNPC), Rex Danquah, the secretary, who also doubles as a Consultant and Sports Expert and Alhaji Abdulai Yakubu, the Chief Director of the Ministry of Youth and Sports).
They will try to convince CAF that we are ready to host the 2017 AFCON. They have the right to do so. We are in competition but this is a “fight” we should save for later.
CAF, please save us from ourselves. Let either Algeria or Gabon host.
We will be ready by 2019. Hopefully.
Follow Nathan on Twitter: @nathan_quao