The dates for the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) remain undecided amid a potential clash with the Fifa Club World Cup, according to Confederation of African Football (Caf) president Patrice Motsepe.
The 2021 finals in Cameroon and the 2023 edition of Afcon, which kicks off in Ivory Coast on Saturday, were moved to dates in January and February.
Caf had made a commitment in 2017 to return to staging the tournament mid-year to avoid disputes with European clubs over releasing players in the middle of their season.
But Fifa’s expanded 32-team Club World Cup is scheduled to be held in the United States in June and July 2025, setting up a potential clash of dates with that year’s Afcon which will be hosted by Morocco.
“We want the Cup of Nations to take place when it is most favourable and convenient for the tournament,” said Motsepe.
“We are still engaging with Fifa about the dates.”
The timing of Afcon has become increasingly controversial, having been held in the first three months of the year from 1968 to 2017, but then staged mid-year in Egypt in 2019.
The 2021 finals in Cameroon were scheduled for early that year to avoid the rainy season in the country, and were then put back 12 months to 2022 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The 2023 tournament was similarly shifted because of weather considerations in Ivory Coast.
Two African sides, Al Ahly of Egypt and Morocco’s Wydad Casablanca have already qualified for the expanded Club World Cup. The national sides of both countries traditionally draw players from those clubs for international duty.
2023 hosts Ivory Coast ‘on right track’
Speaking in Abidjan on Friday, Motsepe also insisted he is confident this year’s Afcon will not see a repeat of the kind of tragedy which marred the last tournament in Cameroon.
Eight people were killed and dozens injured in a crush and stampede at the Olembe Stadium in Yaounde prior to the last-16 match between the hosts and Comoros.
The Ivorian government has invested over $1.5 billion in improving infrastructure in order to host the tournament for the first time since 1984.
That has included the construction of the 60,000-capacity Alassane Ouattara Olympic Stadium, on the northern outskirts of Abidjan, which will host Saturday’s opening game as well as the final on 11 February.
There will be around 17,000 police and soldiers deployed during the month-long tournament to ensure security.
“I am satisfied the appropriate steps have been taken to make sure we will totally avoid the painful experience we had in Cameroon,” added Motsepe.
“The Cameroon accident was absolutely avoidable.
“For as long as I am president, whether I know or don’t know, whether I am aware or not aware, I ultimately have to take responsibility for anything that happens.
“I am satisfied that there is a huge amount of determination and commitment and I think we are on the right track.”