The chairperson of the Confederation of African Football’s Organising Committee for Women’s Football, Isha Johansen, has outlined reasons for the cancellation of AWCON 2020. The biennial women football event was scrapped after CAF’s June 30, Executive Meeting.
According to a statement released on CAF’s social media platforms, the women’s topflight tournament was cancelled “due to challenging conditions”.
This decision by CAF was greeted by mixed reactions from the football world. However, Isha Johansen has clarified that contrary to public opinion that CAF does not care about women football, it actually means a lot to CAF.
According to the CAF Executive Committee member, “Women’s football means a lot to CAF and we take pride, not only in the fact that we have women’s football on our calendar but also the fact that we are actually facing these challenges head-on.”
She underscored the withdrawal of Congo from hosting the event as one of the factors leading to the abandonment of the championship.
She explained, “the withdrawal of Congo meant that we look for a new host. The bid was reopened and we received bids from Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea. However, both bids lacked the most important support documents which were the letter of support from their respective governments.”
“If you cannot get a letter of support from your government to host countries, it becomes quite complex and problematic in the long run because we cannot organise the competition without the support or guarantee from the host country coming from the government.”
The global pandemic COVID-19 which brought everything to a standstill also affected the football fraternity. Travel restrictions has been one of the measures adopted by countries in their bid to curb the spread of the virus this, Isha Johansen alludes was also considered. “Secondly, the outbreak of Covid-19 which we all know led to the suspension of all football activities around the continent and indeed the rest of the world. Due to that fact, the qualifiers initially scheduled for April 2020 had to be postponed indefinitely.
“With the women’s Afcon being a senior women’s national team competition, we could only schedule the matches based on the Fifa calendar dates which were also affected by Covid-19. Again, due to Covid-19, the calendar was revised and left us with two window opportunities being in September and October for qualifiers.”
“We had the closure of borders across the continent and so, it was very unlikely we will be able to honour these matches within these window opportunity dates taking into consideration the travel restrictions and we also have the U17 and U20 Women’s World Cup qualifiers which have to be completed this year.”
The chairperson of the Confederation of African Football Organizing Committee for Women’s Football reassures fans of African Women Footaball that the games “will bounce back in style and get better”.
Nigeria are the defending champions of the competition having won it in the previous edition hosted in Ghana in 2018.
Story filed by Akosua Adjei.