NIGERIA’S sports industry stakeholders have provided insights into why the country lost its bid to hold the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
Two North African countries, Algeria and Morocco, including Zambia, vied to host the tournament against a joint bid from Nigeria and Benin.
But Morocco eventually won the bid.
The North African side will host Africa’s flagship event for the second time, 35 years after the country hosted the competition in 1988.
Meanwhile, the rights for the 2027 edition were handed to a co-bid from Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
The joint East African bid returns the tournament to the region for the first time since 1976.
They beat Botswana, Egypt and Senegal in a vote of the CAF executive committee.
Stakeholders’ reactions to Nigeria’s failed bid
A sports administrator, Peter Iweze, recalled how he and ex-international Segun Odegbami sought a joint bid for the country with South Africa ahead of the 2010 World Cup, saying they started the bid early.
He described Nigeria’s bid for the 2025 AFCON as impromptu, adding that early preparation would have conferred some advantages on the nation over its peers.
“We are not ready to do anything like that. Is that our priority? You don’t bid for events like that; you start early. When we bid for the World Cup for the West African joint bid, Odegbami and I went to the whole of West Africa. We took time for the World Cup in 2010; we started in 2002,” he said.
According to him, Nigeria is suffering from an economic downturn, and its failure to secure the hosting rights would help salvage its economy.
“So it is good savings for us. Right now, Nigerians are suffering. They don’t want unnecessary expenditure of funds. I am not surprised that we lost,” he said.
Also, a veteran sports journalist, Maxwell Kumoye, explained that hosting AFCON tournaments demands quality sporting infrastructures like good stadiums, airports and hotels.
He argued that the country could not boast of these.
“At the moment, look at the state of our facilities. What facilities were they putting forward to host AFCON besides UYO, Abuja, Stephen Keshi and Samuel Ogbemudia Stadiums?
“The stadiums in Lagos are nothing to write home about. They are not ready for major international events like AFCON. Yes, we may have hotels and airports, but our sporting facilities are below the mark,” he said.
He faulted the country’s bid, saying it was dead on arrival.
“We were thoroughly disgraced in the sense that we hurriedly put up that bid and indicated that it was dead on arrival from the start to the end.
“What did we do right? Certainly, we did not do anything right. Perhaps the board felt, ‘let’s put this together to tell the world we are doing something.’ For me, that bid had no substance. What was in that bid was that we were seeking the help of the Benin Republic to bid for our AFCON.
“Those doing this were not doing it for the country’s sake. They were doing it for their own to be relevant in the international scene that Nigeria is putting up a bid,” he added.