MURRAY WILLIAMS and SAPA
CAPE Town has called on the SA Football Association (Safa) to bring African Cup of Nations (Afcon) matches to the Mother City as news broke that South Africa would be hosting the 2013 tournament.
Safa revealed yesterday that Libya had made the request to swop the hosting of the next two Afcon tournaments.
Libya was to host the 2013 event, but amid lingering political revolt it opted to switch with South Africa, which had been marked as the 2017 host.
The Football Federation of Libya (FFD) hopes there will be stability in that country in six years.
Grant Pascoe, the City of Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for events, tourism and marketing, said today: “We’re absolutely ready and would love to host as many games as possible, especially Bafana Bafana, in our city.
“We have built these stadiums at huge cost to the taxpayer, so maybe it’s time for Safa to spread major international football tournaments across the country. We’ve always been left out in the cold.”
Safa Cape Town president Norman Arendse said: “We have shown we are capable after hosting a successful under-20 tournament, and are very excited about the opportunity to benefit. Unfortunately it is under these circumstances, but that is just the roll of the dice.”
Arendse said Cape Town would apply to host as many games as possible, including a quarter-final and a semi-final.
Finance and Tourism MEC Alan Winde said today: “We’ve proved we can hold these tournaments very well. It’s essential for us to crowd a full year’s events into the Western Cape’s diary.”
Marketing Cape Town to the rest of Africa was “more important than ever before” because of the ongoing economic woes in key traditional markets such as the US, Germany and the rest of Europe, he added.
When South Africa last hosted Afcon 15 years ago, FNB Stadium in Joburg, Boet Erasmus in Port Elizabeth, King’s Park in Durban and Free State Stadium were used.
“We have the infrastructure. The country is ready, and Cape Town is particularly ready,” Pascoe urged.
He said the tournament could give Cape Town a huge boost towards becoming a recognised soccer city.
“We haven’t really leveraged the success of our 2010 World Cup. This lends itself to a huge opportunity to brand Cape Town as an international soccer city.”
The tournament would also attract a key market: African tourists.
“We are marketing Cape Town as a preferred destination for visitors from Africa, and this gives us that opportunity,” he explained.
South Africa will also host the 2014 African Nations Championships (Chan) ahead of Libya, and all changes to both tournaments are expected to be confirmed on September 28 at the Confederation of African Football’s (CAF) executive committee meeting.
CAF had “thanked us for taking the step”, said Safa chief executive Robin Peterson.
The tournaments should provide solid practice for Bafana Bafana before their 2014 World Cup qualifying matches.
As host, South Africa automatically qualifies for the Nations Cup.
It last hosted the tournament in 1996.
This time, however, the country will have the added benefit of new stadiums that were built or improved for the World Cup – the improved FNB Stadium and new stadiums in Polokwane, Nelspruit, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town.
Safa has not yet identified the venues that will be used, although four are usually used for the 16-team tournament.
“After the CAF meeting, it gives us 15 months to prepare and fortunately we already have existing venues to choose from,” Peterson said.
“We haven’t identified any potential venues and even though normally four are used, we could opt to use more than that, but it will be planned for later.”
It is not the first time South Africa has come to Libya’s aid. It successfully hosted the African Youth Championships in Joburg earlier this year. – Additional reporting by Allison de Villiers