Gaborone — Some women in football have expressed their misgivings concerning cancellation of 2020 edition of the Africa Women's Cup of Nations (AWCON).
Recently, Confederation of African Football (CAF) cancelled the AWCON and instead announced the new 2020 AFCON qualifiers for men.
This has irked some women in football, who felt that women's football was not a top priority in CAF.
Game Mothibi, International Working Group on Women and Sport executive board member, said the decision taken by CAF was a blow to women's sport.
"Firstly, it was qualifiers and now it is the cup.
And reasons advanced are that CAF is unable to stage the games due to COVID-19 pandemic.
But for some of us, we have so many reasons to believe that the decision was taken because women's football is not taken with the seriousness it deserves," she said.
Suprisingly, Mothibi said men's edition of the AFCON would continue and fixtures had been released already.
"CAF is self-serving and the decisions taken are personal than professional and were not in the best interest of sport.
For so long we have been told that women's football doesn't attract many fans, does not attract any sponsors and media. Is it then not the time to sacrifice men's football, which might pose more dangers due to COVID-19 pandemic?"
She said it would have been ideal to go with women edition, which technically would be easy to manage and ensure that there was adherence to COVID-19 health protocols adding it would also not cost CAF a lot of money under the current circumstances.
"I challenge CAF to give me reasons why they have to go ahead with men's cup and not women's or both, and I will give CAF more reasons why the need to have chosen differently and will also be able to give them reasons why I am saying CAF decisions are done along gender lines," she said.
Mothibi argued that CAF only introduced women's cup in 2018 and increased teams in the cup in 2019, adding that the women's edition was very new to be disturbed.
She said cancellation might leave a long lasting negative effect on the cup, which might take longer time to restore.
Zimbabwe's freelance journalist, Tatenda Gondo said cancellation of the African Women's Cup of Nations was a huge blow, considering that FIFA had started the initiative to grow women football.
For CAF to cancel AWCON, and yet continue with AFCON, she said showed that CAF needed to change their perspective on women's football in Africa.
"Just some two years ago, football governing body FIFA, announced that they wanted to see women's participation double over 12 years to 60 million worldwide by 2020.
This was introduced as a key component meant to insure that all associations have comprehensive women's plans in place by 2022.
The cancellation of the tournament hinders such a plan," she said.
Furthermore, Gondo said cancelling AWCON and at the same time continuing to host AFCON, CAF had shown that they had failed to fulfill its mission to support women's football.
"CAF never made a statement regarding the new host of the AWCON since Congo withdrew. Had it been the male version of the competition, we know they would have quickly announced the opening of hosting rights bids," she said.
She argued that there were some leaders who were happy to sit back and let women football go down the drain in Africa.
The AWCON, she said was the only tournament that most African federations use for their players to be scouted abroad, whilst the AFCON was also used for the exact same purpose.
"Considering the high rise of African female footballers playing abroad in professional league, the cancellation of the game could mean that we would not be able to see more women signing contracts abroad," she said.
Meanwhile, according to CAF statement, CAF Women's Champions League will launched nexte year, while format and other details will be communicated in due course.
Source : BOPA