Libya stripped of 2017 Nations Cup as rebels seize Tripoli airport

For the second time in a row, Libya has lost the right to host the African Nations Cup finals. Ongoing fighting has delayed plans to build new stadiums for 2017’s 16-team tournament, and the Confederation of African Football said on Saturday that it was inviting new bidders for the tournament. Libya was also scheduled to host in 2013 but, because of the civil war, swapped with South Africa. The country has since been crippled by fighting between former rebel factions, who helped topple former leader Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. On Sunday, Islamist-affiliated forces from Misrata took over the airport from the Zintan militia, which has held it for three years.

Considering the limited time left for the organisation of the 2017 edition, the CAF executive committee will select a host country whose dossier guarantees that accommodation, transportation and hotels facilities, as well as training sites and stadiums already exist.

Issa Hayatou, president of the Confederation of African Football

Libya’s government said last year that it hoped the hosting of the Nations Cup would allow it to demonstrate that life had returned to normal in the country and encourage investors. The oil-rich North African country was planning to build 11 stadiums at a cost of US$314 million, including a showpiece new 60,000-seater Austrian-built stadium on the site of a former military camp in Tripoli. Countries wishing to host the tournament have until Sept. 30 to send in expressions of interest, the confederation said. A decision on the replacement host will be made next year.