By Ben Efe
FIFA president, Sepp Blatter, said that there is a need for a radical change to the African Cup of Nations to eliminate club versus country row for African players based in Europe.
He said during an interview that he has made suggestions to CAF president Issa Hayatou if the Nations Cup is to hold every two years it has to be strictly for local-based players and not professionals based in Europe.
â€œBeing a bi-annual event, it could be tiring to the players especially in the year of the World Cup,â€ said Blatter.
â€œThe players play in European leagues, then travel to the African Cup of Nations, then go back to play in the European leagues and then join the national team for the World Cup a few months later.
â€œAll other continents hold this event every four years. I donâ€™t know if Africa will change or not as long as it works well for them as it is now. Actually, I donâ€™t think it will change.â€
However, Hayatou insistedÂ that CAF would maintain the two years format, but was considering having the tournament in â€˜odd yearâ€™.
â€œThe decision is actually pending,â€ Hayatou said. â€œNo decision (has been) taken yet. This requires a great reflection on the feasibility, particularly in terms of qualifying for major competitions.â€
Hayatou added that the tournament was an opportunity for all African countries to develop their infrastructures. In Angola, where this yearâ€™s African Cup (CAN) is currently being played, new stadia were built in Luanda and three other cities.
â€œWe need sports infrastructure in our countries,â€ Hayatou said. â€œFour stadia were built in Ghana 2008, another four this year in Angola. These would not have happened without the CAN. The CAN is a development tool not only in the football area.â€The next African Cup will be co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea in 2012.