CONFEDERATION of African Football (CAF) President, Patrice Motsepe, has talked up a bid from Botswana to co-host the men’s 2027 African Cup of Nations finals with Namibia.
Mmegi Online reports that the South African billionaire, who has served as CAF president since March 2021, met Botswana’s Minister of Sport, Gender, Youth and Culture, Tumiso Rakgare, as well as officials from the Botswana Football Association (BFA) to discuss the bid.
Neither Botswana nor neighbouring Namibia have previously held the African Cup of Nations finals, but are working together on a joint proposal for staging the tournament in five years’ time.
Motsepe believes the bid has a chance of being successful, despite being likely to face challenges from other countries including Burkina Faso, Morocco and Senegal.
“There is absolutely no reason why you should not host the AFCON finals,” the CAF President was quoted as saying by Mmegi Online.
He praised Botswana’s women’s national team after they clinched a place at the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations in Morocco later this year for the first time, and vowed to support the BFA in its efforts to develop the sport in the southern African country.
“It is my duty to ensure that Botswana football grows,” Motsepe said.
“There is no CAF if football doesn’t grow.
“I leave Botswana confident and proud.
“You have the talent.
“Days of talking about potential are gone.”
Botswana’s men’s national team’s only appearance at the AFCON finals to date came in 2012, while Namibia qualified for the third time in 2019.
The Namibian Cabinet last week approved a bid to co-host the 2027 AFCON finals with Botswana.
This follows a recent fact-finding visit by a ministerial delegation from Botswana to Namibia during which local facilities were inspected.
The delegation also met up with their Namibian counterparts in the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service, as well as the Namibia Football Association (NFA).
Audrin Mathe, the executive director of sport, youth and national service in Namibia, said this about the bid: ‘’The Namibian Cabinet’s approval of Botswana’s offer to co-host the event came from the friendship between the two countries, while it is also a lot cheaper to jointly host AFCON.
“Under our framework this is going to be a 60/40 ratio arrangement, in which Namibia would cover 40% of the costs and reap 40% of the benefits, while Botswana would take 60% of the costs and enjoy 60% of the benefits.
“With regard to matches and the hosting of teams, 16 teams would be based in Botswana, and eight would be based in Namibia, which would be split into two groups of four.
“Our intention is to host the teams in Windhoek at the Independence and Swakopmund stadiums.
“At the same time we have also made plans to have training facilities at Walvis Bay and Swakopmund, and at four other venues in Windhoek, where the teams can prepare for the tournament.
“One of the reasons we thought Namibia could host it, is because our infrastructure is one of the best on the continent, considering our road network, and our telecommunications and financial sectors.”
Asked how much money will Namibia need to successfully stage this project, Mathe said: “We have a preliminary budget of N$450 million, while the Ministry of Works and Transport is currently doing the final financial costing for hosting the games.
“Unlike Botswana, we do not have to build new stadia. We are going to stage the matches at Independence Stadium, and work on renovating the stadium will commence in June. The other matches would take place at the Swakopmund Stadium, so those would be the two venues we propose to host AFCON.
‘’We also have other venues that would be upgraded and serve only as training venues for the teams based in these two towns, so these are the preliminary costs.
“Independence Stadium has a seating capacity of only 25 000. So we are now planning to upgrade it to international standards so that we are able to host international matches. The work to be done would ensure 25 000 individual seats inside the stadium, which would meet the international requirements for hosting the games.
“In the bidding requirements the Confederation of African Football (CAF) requires that stadia must seat 40 000 people, but they are not that strict about it, and it differs from country to country. With our population, it’s not essential that we have a 40 000-seat capacity — we don’t even have the numbers to fill that up.
“Even in bigger countries, the stadiums are only full when the host country is playing or when it’s a cup final, so those requirements are relaxed in places where the population is small.
“If we look at previous AFCON tournaments, we think we will have about 50 000 people coming into the country over a period of 30 days.
“So these are the opportunities we see, and we need to do this with the private sector, because although it’s a government initiative, it has to be driven by the private sector to ensure there is economic growth and cultural exchanges between Namibia and other countries — specifically Botswana, Angola, South Africa and Zimbabwe, which are nearby.
“But we must also cater broadly for the African tourist so they can see what Namibia showcases in terms of tourist attractions.’’
Mathe said he was confident that Namibia will win the bid to co-host the 2027 AFCON finals with Botswana.
“We are very confident we can win the bid to host AFCON. Our infrastructure speaks for itself, and what also counts in our favour is the fact that only two other southern African countries have hosted AFCON before, namely Angola and South Africa. AFCON has mostly been concentrated in north Africa and west Africa, so we think it is southern Africa’s turn to host AFCON again.
“The timelines have not been set, but what we know is that the decision would be made in Cairo in December. We think the bid will be opened either in June or July, and will close either in August or September.”
Mathen went on to say: ‘’A lot of economic opportunities could arise from this. First of all, it would jump-start our sport infrastructure. Not just that, but the Namibia Airports Company have also made a commitment to comply with all of CAF’s requirements, while there would have to be some upgrades to the roads too.
“In terms of job creation, from the moment we say we’ve got the rights up to the last day of the tournament approximately 9 000 jobs would be created. Some 3 000 of those would become permanent jobs, which would be in the construction, retail and hospitality sectors, as well as the sport industry itself. So these are jobs that would be staying here in Namibia.
“The infrastructure that’s going to be developed would become the product of our country. And then, besides tourism, we expect 50 000 people to come to Namibia within a 30-day period, so you can imagine the injection for our economy this would bring.’’
Next year’s edition of the AFCON finals competition is due to be held in Cote d’Ivoire, with Guinea awarded the 2025 tournament.
Southern Africa has not held the AFCON finals since 2013, when the tournament was played in South Africa and was won by Nigeria who beat Burkina Faso 1-0 in the final.
In fact, South Africa first hosted the AFCON finals in 1996 a few years after they were allowed back into the FIFA family following the dismantling of apartheid and Bafana Bafana made history when they emerged as the overall winners of event by beating Tunisia 2-0 in the final. Another Southern African country, Zimbabwe, previously won the bid to host the AFCON finals in 2000, but the rights were taken away at the last minute by CAF and awarded to Ghana and Nigeria with CAF saying that the country was behind in its preparations.
Zimbabwe also submitted bids for AFCON in 2010 and the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup which were unsuccessful. — Insidethegames/The Namibian