Uganda President Yoweri Museveni welcomes 2027 joint Afcon bid
What you need to know:
- Ugandans are also still waiting for the completion of the Teryet High Altitude Training Centre 13 years after it was promised by President Museveni following Moses Kipsiro’s double gold at the Delhi Commonwealth Games.
- Only two Cecafa countries have hosted the Afcon, with Sudan staging the first edition in 1957 and again in 1970. Ethiopia hosted in 1962, 1968, and 1976.
President Yoweri Museveni Monday received Uganda’s bid to jointly host the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) with East African neighbours Kenya and Tanzania.
This comes a week after Kenyan President William Ruto also received his country’s copy of the bid, which has contributions from the three major East African nations.
Parliamentary Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa, State Minister for Sports Peter Ogwang and Fufa boss Moses Magogo led a delegation that presented the document to the president and First Lady, also Education and Sports Minister, Janet Museveni, at State House, Entebbe.
The three EA countries teamed up with a plan dubbed EA 'Pamoja' (together) Afcon 2027 bid, which they believe makes a strong case against seasoned international events hosts nations of Egypt and Algeria.
The final bid will be presented to Caf in Cairo, Egypt Tuesday. Botswana is the fourth bidding country. Museveni welcomed the regional bid, highlighting the importance of hosting and sports in general to both the players and spectators.
"As I have always said, Sports is good for health to burn calories and not be unhealthy. It is also good for entertainment "for yourself, who is participating and the spectators. This is better than other activities like consuming alcohol, etc.
"While in sports, you learn to coordinate your body better, just like the parade in the army. And to coordinate a group. You develop the spirit of determination. You push yourself even when you are tired. You learn not to take the easy way. You stop having 'nyeko' (jealousy) by learning that one can lose and later win and it’s normal," Museveni said.
When it came to the EA bid proper, the president appreciated the business side of it, but if he exhibited enthusiasm about it, it did not show in his message.
"Therefore, for East Africa to come together to invite the African Cup to come here is very good. It will promote our countries. Tourism will also increase. However, we must take care not to forget the real way of becoming stable, which is wealth creation. Yes, sports brings in money from some professional players but out of 100, how many will be professional and make money?
"Therefore, the children should play but also get time to create wealth in order to have money even after their time in sports."
Assessing EA bid chances
Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania are no match for Egypt and Algeria, two North African countries that could host the event at a hand’s-tap notice thanks to their international standards facilities.
Egypt hosted Afcon as recently as 2019, while Algeria hosted the African Nations Championship (Chan) - a continental tournament for locally-based players - early this year.
As per stadium inspections early this year to certify venues that meet international standards to host Caf and Fifa matches, Egypt has six stadiums in three cities, while Algeria has five venues in four cities.
All Egypt and Algeria need is a thumbs-up from their respective governments and it is game on.
On to Botswana, who were counting on Namibia for a joint bid until the latter recently pulled out citing financial constraints, and the East African charge, it remains unclear how much investment by them will be needed to succeed.
Again, as per Caf inspections early in the year, Botswana, Uganda and Kenya have zero stadiums that meet international standards, with only Tanzania’s Benjamin Mkapa’s National Stadium making the cut.
The more reason Fufa's boss, Magogo, argues that East Africa should get a chance.
"Our bid to host the Afcon 2027 will accelerate infrastructural development in the country,” he said.
There will be a big upgrade on different infrastructures like roads, hotels, airfields, and airports.”
Caf requirements to host
Magogo, who has regularly taken to Twitter to explain the bid, added: “Afcon hosting is awarded on plans and guarantees not what you have. The Government of Uganda has already provided 97bn for rehabilitation of Namboole and we need only one more stadium.”
In the bid, Uganda is said to have used Namboole as the guarantee. It is not clear what second and third options have been provided, or what training facilities have been pledged.
According to Caf, match venues of a hosting country or joint hosts should be near an airport, level five hospital and a five-star hotel. The hosts should also have six stadiums to cater to the 24 teams that take part in the tournament.
Cameroon, 2021 Afcon hosts, used six venues; three of them - 60,000, 50,000 and 20,000 seaters - new, in four cities.
The cost of renovating and building new stadiums along with infrastructure such as hotels, airports and roads in Cameroon was estimated at $885m (Sh3.2 trillion).
Furthermore on Caf requirements, each host country/countries must have at least three training grounds near match venues that meet Caf set standards. Among other things, all stadiums must install turnstiles at all gates - from the outside gates to the terrace gates - along with CCTV monitors.
Padded VIP and VVIP seats must be well demarcated, as well as a media centre, media tribune, and a press conference room that can host 50 media personnel.
A mixed zone, photographers’ area, OB van area and VAR operation room are the other key requirements. The under- renovation Nakivubo Stadium’s location, chaotic surroundings and poor access roads is a red flag for Caf, while the preference of natural grass keeps St Mary’s Kitende on the periphery.
Sources close to the bid suggest that the government is looking to invest in venues out of the capital, with Buhinga in Fort Portal, Akii Bua in Lira, and Kakyeka in Mbarara having a look-in.
Kenya are said to be considering improvements on Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, and Nyayo Stadium in Nairobi, with the Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Eldoret, just over 300kms from the capital, the third option.
The Caf-certified Benjamin Mkapa National Stadium is already inked-in for Tanzania. Chamazi Complex - home to Azam FC, the CCM Kirumba Stadium in Mwanza and some venues in Dodoma, Arusha and Zanzibar are the other options Tanzania will look to touch up or invest in to meet Caf standards.
Although the prospect of an East African bid is exciting, it has also been received with mixed reactions because of previous uncomfortable precedents.
Kenya won the bids to host the 1996 Afcon edition as well as the 2018 Chan finals, but on both occasions was stripped of the right because several venues were not ready.
Ugandans are also still waiting for the completion of the Teryet High Altitude Training Centre 13 years after it was promised by President Museveni following Moses Kipsiro’s double gold at the Delhi Commonwealth Games.
Only two Cecafa countries have hosted the Afcon, with Sudan staging the first edition in 1957 and again in 1970. Ethiopia hosted in 1962, 1968, and 1976.