Africa: 2023 Total Afcon - Will Côte d'Ivoire Be Ready?

(File photo).

Anthony Baffoe: "We are happy with what we saw"

CAF Deputy General Secretary (DGS) in charge of Football and Development Anthony Baffoe led the CAF inspection team to Cote d'Ivoire. Several experts assisted him, namely Director of Competitions Samson Adamu, Manager of National Team Competitions Ismail Wally, and Head of Services and Travel Randa Metwally. The team toured "the land of the Elephants" in early December 2020, to assess the work undertaken by the host country of the 2023 Total Africa Cup of Nations. Here's what Baffoe told

Tell us about the aspects of this visit?

Côte d'Ivoire is a country that I know very well. The visit was well orchestrated. We are very satisfied with the way the inspection visit went, and with the work done by the Local Organizing Committee (LOC).

For us, infrastructure and access routes are very important, and this is what interested us in each city. We first landed in Abidjan and in the next day we went to Korhogo. We drove from for three hours Korhogo to Bouaké without encountering any problem. From Bouaké, we continued to Yamoussoukro. After Yamoussoukro, we returned to Abidjan where we spent two days.

In the capital we visited all the stadiums and hotels, and we also held a feedback meeting with the LOC. We also met the Minister of Sports. The delegation visited the family of Sidy Diallo (late President of the Ivorian Football Federation who died on 21 November) to show our respect for the illustrious deceased. This is how the inspection visit went. There are details to be perfected in various stages, but my message is clear: We are happy with what we saw. Meeting deadlines will also be important.

What about these deadlines?

We changed the specifications. Before, the delivery of infrastructure took place 6 months before the competition. Now it is 12 months. And in the case of Côte d'Ivoire, most stadium deliveries are scheduled for mid-2021. This means they still have time, but it will allow them to organize test matches. I recommended that they set up an organizational chart and appoint a tournament director, a security chief and all the important operational people. My sentence will always remain the same; put the right people in the right place.

I also encouraged, as I suggested in Cameroon, the creation of a sports museum that would have legends, not just football ones. We have to tell the story to young people, document sports history especially football, which has a huge impact on different countries.

In view of the infrastructures which are currently under construction in Africa, can we say that Africa has taken a step forward in football development?

Yes, Africa is turning a corner. But what is important, once you build stadiums, is to have good people to manage them. The stadium is there for events, not just football. It is not a problem to organize political activities there. You just have to cover the pitch. A good event manager needs to know how to use stadiums.

I can organize a boxing match in a stadium, on the pitch, after covering it. How I will now mark the northern sector, the southern sector, etc. How am I going to decorate the stadium? What am I going to call the stadium entrances? For example: The 1990 Lions entrance, Roger Milla entrance, Laurent Pokou entrance? You see, the stadium is there to bring incomes in. When you have a stadium like Ebimpe or Japoma, you can play international games there, instead of always playing in France or Italy. Now they can also come and play with us. Every country must have a model stadium, which means beautiful architecture, a good pitch and good training grounds.

CAN 2023 - Visite d'inspection en Côte D'Ivoire - Décembre 2020

Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium

Capacity: 33,000 seats Status: to be renovated

Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium, built around 1952, will be completely renovated for the 2023 AFCON. The renovation work starts in January 2021, with the installation of a complete metal roof.

Ebimpé Olympic Stadium

Capacity: 60,000 seats Status: Ready

Opened on 3 October 2020, the 60,012-seats Epimbé Olympic Stadium will be one of the major attractions of the 2023 AFCON. The architectural jewel built between 2016 and 2020 hosted last November the Total AFCON 2021 qualifiers match between Côte d'Ivoire and Madagascar.

Stade San Pedro

Capacity: 20,000 seats Status: under construction

The stadium is located 2.5 km from the city centre. The work progress rate is estimated at more than 50%, with a delivery date scheduled by the end of September 2021.

Yamoussoukro Stadium

Capacity: 20,000 seats Status: under construction

Construction began in August 2019. In December 2020, the work progress rate is estimated at 70%. Around 700 workers are working daily on site to deliver the stadium by the end of 2021.

Peace Stadium

Capacity: 40,000 seats Status: to be renovated

The capacity of the stadium will increase from 25,000 to 40,000 seats. Work began in 2019. The initial delivery date was scheduled for May 2021. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was pushed back to the end of 2021. The work progress rate in December 2020 is estimated at 65%.

Poro Stadium

Capacity: 20,000 seats Status: under construction

The space dedicated to infrastructure covers an area of 50 hectares, and the stadium will be built on 20 hectares. The work progress rate is estimated at 40%, for a planned delivery by the end of 2021.

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