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AFCON returns to winter date for 2021 edition

Mohamed Salah of Egypt in action during the Africa Cup of Nations (Photo by Ahmed Hasan/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

The Cameroon Football Federation (Fecafoot) has confirmed today (Wednesday) that next year’s Africa Cup of Nations will take place in January and February, and not in the summer as originally planned.

Fecafoot cited summer weather conditions in Cameroon as a reason for the change. Today’s announcement was made following discussions with the Confederation of African Football (Caf), which sanctions the Africa Cup of Nations.

The rescheduling of the tournament will avoid a clash with Fifa’s expanded Club World Cup, which will take place in China in June 2021.

Caf deputy general secretary Anthony Baffoe said in a statement: “We have reviewed the period of the competition as requested by the Cameroonian party due to unfavourable climatic conditions during the period initially slated.

“After listening to the various arguments and viewpoints, and in particular from the Cameroonian meteorological authorities, the coaches and players; the representatives of the Afcon organising committee, which received the mandate from Caf Executive Committee to take the decision, has granted this request.

“A detailed reported shall be presented to the members of the Executive Committee during its next session on 6 February.”

Moving the tournament will likely prove unpopular with the leading European clubs, who are calling for a harmonisation of the international match calendar that would see see all confederation tournaments take place at the same time, two years after the Fifa World Cup, allowing a rest period every other summer for the leading players.

The calendar, which is drawn up by world governing body Fifa, co-ordinates fixtures around the globe, allocating dates for international matches and tournaments to avoid clashes with domestic competitions.

Cameroon had initially been due to host the 2019 Cup of Nations but was stripped of the event amid delays in stadium work. The event was reassigned to Egypt and held last summer, with Algeria emerging as winners.

Caf then announced Cameroon as the host country for the 2021 edition, which had originally been assigned to the Ivory Coast. The Ivory Coast will now host in 2023.

Last year’s summer event in Egypt marked a new spot on the calendar for the Cup of Nations, which is traditionally held midway through the European club season in January and February.