Soccer-Hayatou rules out African Nations Cup switch
By Mark Gleeson
ADDIS ABABA, March 16 (Reuters) - Confederation of African Football President Issa Hayatou has rejected any possibility of changing the timing of the African Nations Cup Finals despite the problems it poses for European-based players and their clubs.
Hayatou, speaking at the opening of the Confederation's Congress in Ethiopia on Thursday, also said he expected the continent to get 10 spots at the expanded 48-team World Cup.
Hayatou said the CAF would not “be dictated to by outside forces” with respect to the Nations Cup finals and that the schedule was determined by climatic conditions.
The timing of the tournament every two years in January draws criticism from European clubs, who lose their African players at a crucial stage of the season. Players are often caught in the middle of the club v country rows.
“Never sway from the path that has been pioneered,” he told African member associations as the organisation celebrated its 60th anniversary.
Hayatou, who faces a strong challenge for re-election later on Thursday, also said Africa expected 10 places in the revamped World Cup from 2026.
Earlier, FIFA President Gianni Infantino told the Congress the continent could expect nine or 10 places.
“Our expectation of 10 is based on the level of development of football and considering what our continent means to FIFA. We are certain of attaining this objective,” Hayatou said. Continued...