AFCON bid: The P120M task ahead

GAZETTE REPORTER

Botswana has raised an early hand to host the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations finals, but it will not be an easy task. Hosting the 24-team tournament will set back the hosts at least P120million if previous figures are anything to go by. South Africa was keen on hosting the 2019 tournament but reportedly baulked at the P120million asking price.

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With tournament expanded from 16 to 24 teams, organising CAF’s flagship competition just got more expensive. For a country to host, the government should make financial commitment to back the tournament. Botswana National Sport Commission chief executive officer, Tuelo Serufho recently told local media that a bid committee has begun preliminary works on the bid.

“I can confirm that we have been doing preliminary work on the bid for the 2027 AFCON finals. Currently we are talking with our Namibian counterparts, with whom we are considering the possibility of a joint bid. We should be releasing information on how we plan to undertake the project soon,” Serufho was quoted as saying.

Botswana wants Namibia as a partner to co-host the tournament in a bid to lessen the financial burden. Other neighbours will be considered if talks with Namibia do not bear fruit, sources say.

Namibia’s Minister of Sport, Audrin Mathe has confirmed Botswana’s interest but said it was too early to make a decision. In 2019, South Africa decided against hosting the event after it had been approached as an alternative to Cameroon.

“It’s always very expensive. Hosting an AFCON, considering its an expanded version, you are talking nothing less than $10-million,” then South Africa Football Association (SAFA) acting chief executive officer, Russell Paul said.

To host the tournament, a country must have two 40,000 seater stadiums. Two others should seat at least 20,000 while the other two’s capacity should be at 15,000. Botswana does not have a 40,000 seater, but has three standing all with a capacity above 20,000. These are Obed Itani Chilume Stadium, National Stadium and the Lobatse Sports Complex.

This would mean local authorities would have to upgrade, or built a new 40,000 seater facility in order to meet the hosting requirements. Other countries keen on hosting the tournament are Algeria, Burkina Faso and Morocco, while Mauritania, Senegal and Gambia are planning a joint bid. With the tournament largely hosted in the north and west of the continent, a Botswana bid could receive favourable backing to bring the finals south.