Egypt's sports minister opposes canceling league over African Cup hosting

Ahmed Abd El Rasoul , Wednesday 16 Jan 2019,
Egypt’s sports minster Ashraf Sobhy (Photo: Al-Ahram)

Egypt's Sports Minster Ashraf Sobhy says he opposes the idea of cancelling the current season of the Egyptian Premier League over the country's hosting of the African Cup of Nations next summer.

Recent reports suggest that the domestic league cannot be completed due to Egypt’s commitments towards the prestigious African tournament, but the minister firmly stands against the cancelation.  

“I completely oppose the idea of cancelling the league. This would be against professionalism. The competition must be completed,” Sobhy told ON TV channel on Wednesday.

“We have played many African Cup tournaments without cancelling the league.

“The Egyptian Football Association is responsible for choosing the stadiums of the African Cup according to CAF’s rules regarding climate and capacity, so it would be difficult to play some matches in Upper Egypt, he added.

On 8 January, Egypt was granted the hosting rights of the 2019 African Cup of Nations after winning a majority of votes of the executive committee of the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

Egypt obtained 16 out of 18 votes, with only one vote going to sole rival South Africa, while the remaining voting country abstained.

"Congratulations to all Egyptians. The sweeping win of the hosting rights of this year's 2019 African Cup reflects Egypt's standing position in Africa," Sobhy said last week.

"We have all the facilities to organise a successful tournament,” he added at the time.

Last December, Cameroon was stripped of the right to host the 2019 African Cup of Nations due to both serious delays in its preparations for the cup and the persistence of a violent separatist uprising near two of the planned venues.

Egypt and South Africa were the only two countries to submit their candidacy to become the 2019 host.

The 2019 AFCON is scheduled to take place from 15 June to 13 July, having been moved from January/February to avoid club-versus-country clashes.

Egypt has already hosted four editions of the cup: in 1959, 1974, 1986 and 2006.

South Africa organised the 2013 edition.

The Pharaohs have won the prestigious competition seven times.

This year’s edition has seen major innovations, with the tournament expanded to 24 teams up from 16, and moved to a summer schedule instead of its former January-February calendar.

Cairo giant Zamalek is currently leading the league table with 41 points from 16 matches, while champions Ahly lie fourth with 27 points from 14 matches. Other teams played 19 matches of the competition so far. 

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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