22 Feb 2011 15:07:00
By Lolade Adewuyi
First it was Tunisia, then Egypt, Algeria and now Libya, the North African and Middle East revolutions that began in late 2010 have caught so fast that analysts are having a hard time predicting where the fires will be stoked next.
As these peoples’ revolutions have spread, so also have they affected the sport of football. The Egyptian and Algerian leagues have been suspended until further notice because of the problems that the countries faced in the last couple of weeks. The Egyptian national team had to cancel their proposed friendly match against the United States two weeks ago while Algeria and Tunisia also put their match on hold.
And just as the Egyptian people succeeded in taking back their country from the grip of long-term ruler Hosni Mubarak, Libya, the country that is expected to host next month’s African Youth Championship has caught the revolution bug.
The Nigerian under-20 team that was on a two-match tour of the country had to quickly make an exit after the crisis erupted in the town of Benghazi where they were lodged. They succeeded in playing against their Libyan counterparts before escaping the crisis-torn country that is now a battlefield of sorts where demonstrators are clamouring for the resignation of the Muammar Gaddafi-led regime that has been in power for more than 40 years.
It is obvious that with the crisis in the country, Libya will not be a safe place to host the cream of Africa’s youth next month. A country whose leaders have ordered military jets to shoot at unarmed civilian demonstrators is not fit to host a tournament that should help African youth to blossom.
It is advisable for the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to take the tournament away from the country and find another host. The country’s ability to also host the CAN 2013 tournament must come under scrutiny.
CAF is presently holding the CHAN tournament in Sudan and will converge for its 33rd Ordinary Congress in the course of the competition. It behooves the body to take a stand to move the competition away from Libya to a safer country in order not to disrupt the continental calendar for 2011 as the tournament is the avenue for Africa to present its representatives to the FIFA Youth Championship in Colombia.
Having recently hosted the African Women’s Nations Cup, South Africa seems a good choice to host the tournament. It has all the facilities to quickly organize a successful tournament and CAF must make a quick fix in order to allow the teams adjust their travel plans if the tournament must go ahead in March.