Wednesday October 22nd, 2014

In a statement posted on its website Tuesday night, the Confederation of African Football criticized UEFA president Michel Platini over his recent comments about the upcoming African Cup of Nations.

According to the CAF, in comments on television Sunday night, Platini "found it necessary to question maintaining the scheduled date" of the African Cup.

The organization condemned Platini's reference to the World Health Organization as a basis for his position, saying the WHO hasn't yet itself suggested the Cup be moved, and implied that Platini was being hypocritical since UEFA didn't force Ukraine to play matches outside its own country after a civilian plane was shot down in the country in July.

Overall, the CAF was mostly critical about Platini's "interference" in the affairs of African football. From the statement:

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CAF under the leadership of its President, Issa Hayatou, has always promoted free expression within it. Far from it therefore, claim to deprive anyone latitude to express themselves.

But we must beware of what appears in every way as interference by a president of a Confederation, in cases involving first and foremost Africa and CAF. 

Under the principle of non-interference required to comply, CAF has refrained so far to comment on some issues on the managing of European football or any other continent.

CAF hereby reaffirm the importance it attaches to respect of its sovereignty and does not intend to let anyone interfere in the management of its affairs.

In response, Platini on Wednesday denied saying that the African Cup should be canceled and said it was "unfair, unwarranted and insulting" on the part of the CAF to claim that Platini did, according to the BBC's Richard Conway.

Based on the language of its statement, it remains unclear exactly what comments the CAF is referencing, and whether it's accusing Platini of saying the Cup should be canceled or just postponed.

The possibility of moving the location or dates of the African Cup has been discussed over the past week after Morocco, slated to be the host of the tournament, requested that it be moved due to fears of the spread of Ebola, which has killed several thousand people, mostly in the West African nations of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

The CAF has maintained its desire to play the Cup as scheduled and has reached out to other countries to serve as emergency hosts if Morocco ends up refusing to host. South Africa, which hosted the FIFA World Cup in 2010, has said it's reluctant to serve as host due to the difficulties that would arise from preparing to host on such short notice and its own concerns over Ebola.

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Nigeria is the reigning champion of the African Cup, having won the biannual tournament in 2013. The 2015 Cup is scheduled to run from Jan. 17 through Feb. 8.

Ben Estes

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