Cairo tragedy affects Afcon decision

Premiership

READ: Deadly clashes in Cairo

Although the number of dead is open to debate - the country’s public prosecutor says the number stands at 22 but the club involved in the tragedy, Zamalek, put the number at 28 - what is clear is that this is another huge setback for the north African nation.

The League has been suspended indefinitely and when it does resume will be played behind closed doors for some time.

Egypt are among four candidates to replace Libya, where civil war has rendered any hopes of hosting a football tournament untenable, as hosts of the 2017 edition. Algeria, Gabon and Ghana are the others, but it looks certain that number has now been cut to just the latter three.

The decision is being taken in April, leaving the next hosts with less than two years to properly prepare and eliminate the chance of a repetition of the poor security response to the semi-final violence in Equatorial Guinea.

Future Nations Cup finals are already confirmed for Cameroon (2019), the Ivory Coast (2021) and Guinea (2023), where there is more time to begin building the required infrastructure.

There are no plans to change the timing of the event from every two years and from its January-February window, much to the chagrin of European clubs who lose players to international duty at a crucial juncture of the season.

And given the dismissive response to criticism over the Equatorial Guinea violence, little political will to make it a safer tournament for spectators.

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