Ebola outbreak: Morocco withdraws as Africa Cup of Nations hosts over crisis

Next year's finals is now a major doubt

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The Independent Football

Morocco have reportedly withdrawn from hosting next year's Africa Cup of Nations because of fears over the outbreak of Ebola.

The Confederation of African Football (Caf) received a letter from the Moroccan government last week asking for the tournament to be called off but agreed to hold talks at the next executive committee meeting on 2 November.

Morocco asked to either postpone the tournament for a year or consider switching them to the 2017 tournament.

But African website supersport.com claimed a source from the ministry of sport had told them that that Morocco have already officially withdrawn to "preserve the safety of our citizens".

"Since Caf rejected all our requests and suggestions then we would be forced to withdraw from hosting Afcon 2015 to preserve the safety of our citizens and for that we are prepared to take any consequences that comes with our actions," the source is quoted as saying.

Earlier this week Moroccan sports minister Mohamed Ouzzine was quoted as saying they were considering what action to take if Caf refused to grant their postponement request.

 "We’ve arranged to meet up and discuss the technical options connected to this demand for a postponement," he said. "This demand is motivated essentially by the last report from the World Health Organisation, which contained alarming numbers at the extent and spread of the virus.

"All that means we are facing a historic responsibility. We understand Caf’s difficulty, but that said, never in history has there been such an Ebola epidemic."

South Africa have already been in early negotiations with Caf to take over the tournament, while Sudan and Egypt have also shown interest, while Ghana sports minister Mahama Ayariga says Caf have made a request to them.

Morocco's withdrawal is likely to lead to sanctions, with potential punishments including the suspension of their national teams and clubs from competition.