CAF rejects talk of Cup of Nations leaving Gabon

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has moved to address “persistent rumours” that the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations will be moved from Gabon by maintaining that the country will host the next edition of its showpiece national team tournament.

Gabon is due to host the Cup of Nations from January 14 to February 5 in the cities of Libreville, Franceville, Port-Gentil and Oyem. However, political unrest sparked by August’s re-election of President Ali Bongo has called into question the country’s ability to stage a major football tournament.

In a statement reported by French newspaper L’Equipe, CAF said: “Persistent rumours circulating in recent days on social networks, now relayed by mass media, report the relocation of the CAN 2017. CAF wishes to recall that, as reiterated on many occasions during various interviews by its president, Issa Hayatou, there has never been a question of finding a replacement country to host the CAN 2017.”

Gabon is itself a replacement host for next year’s Cup of Nations after seeing off rival bids from Ghana and Algeria to secure hosting rights in April 2015. Libya was initially selected to stage the competition but opted to withdraw as host in 2014 due to ongoing concerns over the security situation in the North African country.

The 2017 tournament is set to mark the second occasion that Gabon has staged the Cup of Nations, having co-hosted the 2012 edition with neighbour Equatorial Guinea.