Patrice Motsepe, the president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has said there would be a “zero tolerance” approach to ensuring stadiums are safe at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), which kicks off in January.
Motsepe stated this after the draws in Abidjan on Thursday stating that avoidable mistakes were made during the 2021 tournament in Cameroon, which witnessed a tragedy when at least eight people were killed in a crush outside Yaounde’s Olembe Stadium.
“When families come to watch a football match, they have to be absolutely assured that, from a CAF perspective and our partners, we have done everything possible in line with global best practices to make sure that the facilities and the infrastructure are safe,” Motsepe said.
Two test events will be held at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium in Abidjan when Ivory Coast host friendlies against Morocco on Saturday and South Africa on Tuesday.
The tragedy in January 2022 unfolded after a gate to the Olembe Stadium in Yaounde was opened as a result of a heavy build-up of spectators during a Nations Cup last-16 match between hosts Cameroon and Comoros.
“Some mistakes were made, and some of those mistakes were avoidable. We’re very clear that the quality of infrastructure to host the top African competition has to be world class,” said Motsepe.
According to him, CAF is doing everything to ensure that all infrastructure are in perfect condition ahead of the tournament.
However, Motsepe also disclosed that the media has a crucial role to play in holding organisers to the highest standards.
“Part of the role of the media is to criticise us, to identify those areas where there are deficiencies and weaknesses.
“That’s why it’s very, very important that we work together with the media so that they can help us identify some of the areas which, in your [media] view, require urgent attention,” he said.