German football great Franz Beckenbauer is backing Libya as it prepares to host the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations tournament.
During a recent visit to the capital, Tripoli, the 68-year-old Beckenbauer participated in a ceremony to launch the building of a new 60,000-seat national stadium that will be used for the Nations Cup.
Beckenbauer’s visit is validation for a country that originally was awarded the hosting rights to the 2013 Nations Cup. But because of the revolution that overthrew Muammar Gaddafi, the Confederation of African Football, CAF, moved the tournament to South Africa.
Beckenbauer remembered a message from the late South African icon Nelson Mandela about the power of sports in highlighting what the Nations Cup can do for Libya. You can check out his remarks at the 58-second mark of this Sonny Side of Sports video.
Beckenbauer helped Germany win the World Cup as a player in 1974 and as a coach in 1990.
His trip to Tripoli came a few weeks after Libyan fans celebrated their first major international
Libya defeated Ghana, 4-3 on penalty kicks, in Cape Town, South Africa, in the final of the African Nations Championship, a competition for home-based players in Africa.
Libya 2017 will mark the 60th anniversary of the Africa Cup of Nations tournament. This will mark the second time Libya has staged African football’s premier event.
The first was in 1982, when the Libyans lost to the Ghanaians (7-6), again on penalty kicks.