The 16-country Africa Cup of Nations is small potatoes compared with the FIFA World Cup, or the Olympic Games. But it’s capital “H” Huge in Africa.
Morocco had been scheduled to host the 2015 tournament, but with rampant fears of Ebola, the kingdom ask to delay the event for a few months. That prompted the regional soccer governing body, the Confederation of African Football, to strip Morocco of its right to host in November. (And even barred it from even participating).
Enter Equatorial Guinea, a small, West African country that is home to lots of oil and a regime that is widely considered to be spectacularly corrupt and repressive, which was then chosen as the alternative host.
With just nine week to organize and an estimated $40 million price, putting on the tournament was never going to be easy. Organizers had to build a lot of the infrastructure from scratch: stadiums in the middle of jungles and forest; replace dirt roads with multi-lane highways and so on.
Hotels, it would seem, have been given short shrift.
So much so that Congo’s coach Claude Le Roy complained to the BBC this week that the hotel his team has been put up is, shall we say, lacking.
“There are not enough places for my staff and it’s even difficult to find rooms for the players,” Le Roy said.
“The electricity is terrible, everything is exposed. I wanted to wash my hands. There was no water.
“I don’t want a big five-star hotel. I just want something very clean.”