Preparations for African Cup in chaos

With only eight months to go, preparations for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) are in chaos, it was revealed on Sunday.

The revelation was made by Sports Minister Fikele Mbalula who told City Press in an interview that the guarantees needed to host such an international event has not been signed by the government.

It has also emerged that Rustenburg is the only city that had signed the Host City Agreement (HCA) while others were deliberating and asking questions, according to the report.

At the centre of the stalling by cities is the fact that government should give guidance on such matters and that the draft agreement was too open-ended, exposing the cities to costs that could easily escalate to about 80 million rand (about 10.5 million U.S. dollars) per city, said the report.

Mbalula confirmed that he had held a meeting with the Provincial Sports MECs (members of executive council) and the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) this past week to discuss the matter.

“These were consultative meetings as I am gathering information so that I can inform cabinet, which will take the decision to sign the guarantees,” he said.

The LOC has estimated that hosting the event will cost each city about 22 million rand (about 2.9 million dollars).

The cities will have to bear all the costs, including accommodating four teams of 30 players each, officials from the Confederation of African Football (CAF), referees, ground transport and hospitality.

A delegate from one of the cities who spoke on condition of anonymity was quoted as saying: “Anyone who signs this agreement as it is can easily go to jail. The timing is bad as all provincial and municipality budgets have been finalized. There is no city that has 30-40 million rand (about 3.9-5.3 million dollars) sitting there for an event that is just jumped on them.”

According to the HCA, host cities will have to top up any shortfall at the end of the tournament.

So far, the only guaranteed income the cities can make is from ticket sales, from which “host cities will be entitled to 25 percent of the net ticket revenue for group stage matches played in their city,” according to correspondence from the AFCON 2013 LOC.

But LOC chief executive Mvuzo Mbebe, who met Mbalula on Thursday, said he was positive government would give the required guarantees in the next two weeks.

He said he briefed the minister on their signing of the Organisation Association Agreement with CAF on Wednesday.

“My understanding is that the guarantees are going to be reviewed and the cabinet has the next two weeks to go through them.

“Remember, the government had given support for the 2015 tournament and what is left now is for government to qualify what those guarantees mean,” said Mbebe, according to Xinhua.