CAF Under Pressure to Take U-20 African Championship Away from Libya
Pressure is mounting on the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to identify an alternative host for next month’s U-20 African soccer championship scheduled to be held in protest-wracked Libya. Analysts warn that even if the protests aiming at overthrowing Libyan leader Col. Moammer’s Gadaffi’s 41-year old were to end quickly, Libya would hardly be ready for the scheduled March 18 opening of the tournament. Nor would Libya be acceptable as a venue after the country’s army and air force brutally intervened in a so far failed bid to crush the popular revolt by randomly killing hundreds of protesters with snipers, heavy machine guns and air strikes. Reports of splits within the country’s armed forces, units for and against Gadaffi fighting each other and weapons captured having been distributed among the population hardly make Libya an acceptable security risk. Nigeria’s U-20 squad narrowly escaped the Libyan violence earlier this month when it played Libya in Benghazi on the eve of the violence. Libya’s ruptured reputation as a result of Gadaffi’s scrupulous determination to hang on to power at whatever cost is likely to also call in to question Libya’s hosting of the 2012 African Cup of Nations. Libya is reportedly high on the agenda of CAF officials gathered in Sudan for the second African Cup of Nations for Home-Based Players (CHAN 2011). CAF has so far been silent on the escalating situation in the country, but is believed to have approached South Africa as a possible alternative venue of the U-20 tournament. South Africa already made its mark as a host with last year’s World Cup and its hosting of the African Women’s Nations Cup.