S. Africa May Host Soccer Finals as Ebola Deters Morocco

South Africa is considering whether it will offer to host the continent’s soccer finals next year after Morocco sought a delay due to the spread of Ebola.

The South African Football Association will meet tomorrow to “see the feasibility of hosting such a tournament” at the suggestion of the Confederation of African Football, which has also contacted other countries, spokesman Dominic Chimhavi said by phone today.

Morocco requested the postponement of the tournament, due to start in January, because of the risk of spreading Ebola, which has killed more than 4,000 people in West Africa, Chimhavi said. South Africa hosted the tournament in 2013. Ghana has also been asked to be on standby to host the tournament, Citi FM reported.

Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have been the hardest hit in the outbreak of Ebola that started in December. Cases of the disease may be substantially underreported in Africa, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

Several players likely to be involved in the biennial competition earn their living in Europe, and coaches there have long complained about losing players to the event in the middle of the European season.

League games resume this weekend after a break for national team games, including qualification matches for the Africa Cup of Nations. English Premier League team Newcastle said it had a strategy in place to monitor the health of its African players and their families.

“They are essential to us and our doctor has looked into the problems that might arise and also protection for them, and to make sure we do our very best to help them,” said Newcastle manager Alan Pardew.

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