Cameroon has been stripped of the right to host the Africa Cup of Nations owing to serious delays in the country's preparations for the tournament and security concerns, it was announced today.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) Executive Committee took the decision to find a new host for its flagship event at a meeting held in Accra in Ghana.
In a statement, the CAF said "a number of compliance conditions have not been met" while highlighting a "gap between the requirements of hosting the Africa Cup of Nations and realities on the ground".
The decision will not come as a surprise as Cameroon's hosting of the event has been in jeopardy for over a year.
A process to select a replacement country to stage the tournament is now underway and the CAF has given interested nations until the end of December to submit a bid.
The CAF said it would ensure a host is in place by December 31, just over six months before the competition is scheduled to start in June.
Morocco, which lost out to a joint North American bid from the United States, Canada and Mexico for the 2026 World Cup, is among the contenders after officials publicly declared their intention to step in if Cameroon lost the hosting rights.
CAF President Ahmad, also a FIFA vice-president, revealed a taskforce would be established to oversee the process of replacing Cameroon.
The CAF also considered postponing the event but eventually decided that was "impossible" at the meeting, which lasted over 10 hours, because of contractual obligations.
"I know that there are countries which are interested, rest assured, candidate countries will come forward," said Ahmad.
"We know there won't be many (new candidates) but we will leave the task force to evaluate them and to set up visits in order to select the organisers of the Africa Cup of Nations by the end of the year."
The CAF conducted visits to Cameroon to assess its ability to host the competition, with a security inspection team raising fears following an escalation of violence in certain areas of the country.
Several attacks by Boko Haram jihadists in the north and a conflict between the army and separatists in the two English-speaking regions are thought to have contributed to the fears outlined by CAF.
The 2019 tournament will be the first Africa Cup of Nations to take place in June and July after it was moved from its original January and February slot and will feature 24 teams rather than 16.
The additional number of teams also put pressure on organisers, who were struggling to cope with the demands required for a 16-team tournament before the CAF expanded the event by eight nations.