Morocco kicked out of African Cup of Nations for standing firm on Ebola fears

Further punishment for unwilling hosts in the works as CAF seeks emergency replacement

Confederation of African Football (CAF) president Issa Hayatou, centre, leaves after a meeting in Cairo on November 11, 2014, to decide on host Morocco's request to postpone the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations tournament because of the Ebola epidemic, possibly leading to its cancellation or relocation. Morocco has been stripped of hosting the Africa Cup of Nations and the national side flung out of the competition after the country said it wanted to postpone the tournament due to fears over the Ebola epidemic, CAF announced. Mohamed El Shahed / AFP
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Morocco was thrown out of the 2015 African Cup of Nations on Tuesday and stripped of its hosting rights after refusing to commit to the scheduled dates early next year because of fears over Ebola.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) said the tournament would be hosted by another country. It did not announce which one but said it had received “some applications” to replace Morocco.

CAF said in a statement that the applications from possible replacement hosts were “under review”.

CAF repeatedly refused Morocco's request to postpone the African Cup of Nations until 2016 because of fears over the spread of the Ebola virus, which has killed about 5,000 people in West Africa. The African governing body said the continent's showpiece tournament must go ahead on the planned dates of January 17 to February 8.

“Having firmly and unanimously notified ... its decision to keep the competition on the dates indicated, the executive committee confirmed that the African Cup of Nations 2015 will not take place in Morocco,” CAF said.

CAF’s executive committee also decided “that the national team of Morocco is automatically disqualified” because of its “refusal” to host.

It will decide on further punishments for Morocco for breaching its contractual obligations as host, the statement said.

CAF had already approached seven countries to act as possible short-notice hosts: South Africa, Egypt, Sudan and Ghana have all indicated they are unwilling to replace Morocco, partly because of the Ebola threat.

Nigeria, Gabon and Angola have also been mentioned as possible stand-in hosts.

CAF has not named any countries it is considering as a replacement for Morocco.

Morocco wanted the tournament postponed a year because it feared the possible spread of Ebola through tens of thousands of football supporters travelling for the three-week tournament.

It said over the weekend it would not stand down over its position, prompting CAF to take the competition elsewhere.

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