Thursday, April 22, 2021

Will Botswana ever host AFCON?

By the look of things it seems Botswana will never host AFCON unless a miracle or something dramatic happens.

The latest announcement by the Botswana Football Association (BFA) President, David Fani that Botswana would not bid for the 2016 AFCON was actually a bitter pill for the government to swallow.
Fani said it was because they presented their bid to the government late, and that it was also going to be expensive for the country.

Fani’s announcement comes at a time Botswana stood a better chance because the competition is not that intense. Many countries did not show interest to bid for the tournament except South Africa, which has just come into the picture.

Botswana was going to stand a better chance because the South Africans already hosted the 1996 edition of AFCON, which they ended up winning and preference is normally given to those who bid for the first time.

It must be remembered that South Africa then did not bid for it.

It was supposed to be hosted by Kenya. After the Confederation of African Football declared Kenya not ready, South Africa stepped in and hosted one of the most successful tournaments.

Botswana’s pulling out from the bid follows the 2010 bid in which the government made it clear that they would not be able to support the BFA. The BFA had made done all the ground work and only waited for the government. It was a slap in the face because the then Minister, Moeng Pheto, did not officially inform the BFA but, instead, announced on the political programme, Matlho a Phage.

This time around Batswana had hopes but the announcement shows that it will take time for Botswana to host AFCON.

What is, however, surprising is that many countries which are relatively poorer than Botswana have hosted AFCON before and, for that matter, successfully.

Some of those countries are Burkina Faso and Mali. They used their little resources to attract media attention for three weeks in both 1998 and 2002. Botswana, on the other hand, which is one of the world diamond producers, is failing to host it.

The benefits of hosting a tournament of AFCON caliber can be seen by a blind person. The basic benefit is the development of the sporting facilities and even some infrastructures.
Also many football scouts would descend into the country and take note of the available talent.
But it looks as if Botswana will keep on losing such benefits and many countries will keep on being better than Botswana.

Fobby Radipotsane, a football official, decried the development, saying it is another step backward for football development in Botswana.

He, however, pointed out that the BFA should not be blamed for the failure to bid on time but rather the bureaucratic system involved.

“If BFA bid for any major event, they have to go through the Botswana National Sports Council first and the later would be the one to approach the government. It takes time with that and the BFA are the ones who should be going straight to the government. May be the government was going to give the BFA all the necessary support but now the government would not have enough time to consult and study the bid,” he said.

In regard to poor countries hosting AFCON in the past, Radipotsane said it all depends on the seriousness and willingness of the government of the day.

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