The 2021 Africa Cup was planned to be the best CAF national team tournament in history and is a long way from reaching that goal. In fact it is on the opposite side. The constellation of stars gathered in Cameroon were the best advertisement for the African Football Confederation to attract followers and send the message that a CAN can be as attractive as a Eurocup and a Copa América, however, each day of competition appears a new scandal and the image it gives is of being a very poorly organized tournament that borders on amateurism.

The calendar

The first problem that got in the way of CAN 2021 was the change of the calendar. Cameroon was supposed to host the tournament in 2019 but due to delays in the works, the CAF took the tournament to Egypt. Cameroon had two years to finish some first-rate stadiums that are empty in every game, but that was not the main organizational problem. Due to the heat in the region, CAN 2021 was brought forward to January, which also took it away from the Qatar World Cup in December. That caused the anger of the major leagues that has seen how many of its stars, especially in the Premier, have left the competition to play for their country. Too many enemies before the tournament starts.

Retransmission

No Spanish television station bought the rights to CAN 2021, but CAF announced that it would broadcast its matches openly through its YouTube channel. In full retransmission of Cameroon-Burkina Faso the broadcast was stopped because a South African channel that had the rights denounced the CAF for breaking the Copyright law. The CAF turned a deaf ear and the following day the Morocco-Ghana broadcast live again, but after half an hour of play it was left without signal again due to the same problems. The organization does not have the rights to broadcast its own tournament.

COVID

The tournament began in the midst of the new wave of COVID, associated with the rise of the omicron variant. And, as a consequence, almost all the teams announced cases among their members a few days before the tournament began. In some teams the protocols failed in a scandalous way, as in the case of The Gambia, which reported 16 infected in its team. Morocco had to debut without a center forward because the three men who occupy that demarcation had coronavirus. Malawi, for example, played its first game with only four players on the bench, two of them goalkeepers.

The arbitration scandal

But the real ridiculous came on Wednesday in Tunisia-Mali when referee William Sikazwe of Zambia brought the end of the match several minutes early. In minute 85 ‘he took the whistle to his mouth and declared the end to the surprise of all and with 1-0 in favor of the Malians. Before the stupor of the Tunisian bench, the referee realized that something was wrong and resumed the clash without much conviction. Only four minutes later, at 89 ‘, he whistled for good, also before regulation time. The CAF forced the final minutes to play, but only Mali appeared at the restart, and not Tunisia, outraged by the lack of accuracy on the referee’s clock. A nonsense.

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