Opinion: Zamalek deaths boost Algeria’s chances to host 2017 AFCON
Algeria’s national football team - YOUM7
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CAIRO: Algeria’s chances to win the hosting rights to the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) have risen sharply following the events of the Air Defense Stadium in Egypt, where some 22 Zamalek fans were killed in a stampede Feb. 8.

Egypt, Algeria, Ghana and Gabon are competing to host the AFCON; the likelihood that Egypt hosts the AFCON is now almost non-existent because of the recent fatal events, the second in three years. In 2012, 74 Ahly fans died in Port Said Stadium, some of them were reportedly deliberately killed and some were killed in stampede to flee the closed stadium.

Generally, North Africa is a front-runner to receive the 2017 AFCON, especially since the last five cups were held in Central Africa and the south of the continent. Algeria’s competitors have held the AFCON in recent years, whereas Algeria hosted the contest only once 25 years ago in 1990.

Africa

Ghana has hosted the AFCON four times, most recently in 2008. Gabon and Equatorial Guinea jointly held the 2012 AFCON, and Equatorial Guinea held it again in 2015.

Egypt, which has been crowned champion of AFCON six times, hosted the competition three times, most recently in 2006.

Equatorial Guinea held the AFCON in 2015 instead of the scheduled country, Morocco in North Africa, refused to hold the cup in fear of an Ebola outbreak.

Further, head of the Algerian Football Federation Mohamed Raouraoua has supported President of the Confederation of African Football Issa Hayatou, who has been severely criticized lately.

The critical voices cited a refereeing dispute in the match of Equatorial Guinea and Tunisia (2-1) in the quarter-finals of the 2015 AFCON, and banning Morocco from the next two AFCON and fining it $1 million for pulling out of this year’s competition.

Translated by Hanan Fayed

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