Nigeria has lost the hosting rights for the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) to a joint bid from Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) made the announcement on Wednesday, September 27, 2023.
The football board also announced that Morocco will host the 35th edition of the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations 2025.
Morocco, who last hosted the AFCON in 1988, was chosen to host in 2015 but asked for the tournament to be postponed due to the Ebola virus. CAF later decided to strip them of the hosting rights.
While Morocco were hot favourites to host the 2025 edition of the premier African sport event, the shock last-minute withdrawal of Algeria from the 2027 race on Tuesday threw it wide open.
“This withdrawal can be explained by a new approach from the FAF related to its strategy for developing football in Algeria,” said the national federation.
The Kenya-Uganda-Tanzania bid then got the nod from the CAF executive committee, taking the biennial tournament back to east Africa for the first time since Ethiopia staged the 1976 edition.
Morocco boast many world-class stadiums and have successfully hosted numerous African and world tournaments.
But Kenya and Tanzania have only one international-standard venue each and Uganda none, which forced their national team to play 2023 Cup of Nations qualifiers at neutral venues.
Taking the tournament to east Africa follows a statement this year by CAF president Patrice Motsepe that he did not want successive tournaments in the same region.
“We cannot assign the organisation of the CAN successively to the same region,” he said at a press conference before the African Nations Championship (CHAN) in Algeria last January.
However, several months later, CAF secretary general Veron Mosengo-Omba said regional rotation may not always be possible.
“Today, only five or six countries out of the 54 CAF members are able to apply to host the African Cup. Consequently, it will not be possible to make this alternation,” he said.
Ivory Coast will host the 2023 Cup of Nations, which has been put back to January and February 2024 due to the rainy season in west Africa.
“The timing is not ideal,” Motsepe has said, referring to the tournament falling in the middle of the European club season.
“But we could not risk the tournament being disrupted by inclement weather,” added the South African billionaire, who was appointed CAF president in 2021.
The 2025 AFCON will be the first time that the tournament has been hosted by three countries. The tournament will be played in 12 stadiums across Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. It is expected to attract millions of fans from all over Africa and the world.
The loss of the AFCON hosting rights is a disappointment for Nigeria, but it is also an opportunity for the country to learn from its mistakes and to prepare for future hosting bids.
With the right planning and investment, Nigeria can still host a major international football tournament in the future.