AIPS Africa President fumes over decision to move Rugby African qualifiers to France
Mr. Mitchell Obi, President of the International Sports Press Association (AIPS) Africa, has expressed displeasure over the decision of Rugby Africa to host African Qualifiers for the World Cup in France.
According to Mr. Obi who doubles as the Vice President for AIPS, moving the Rugby Africa qualifiers from the continent was a disturbing message to all Africans, especially the young populace and the continent’s rising rugby’s community.
A statement released by AIPS Africa called out Rugby Africa President Khaled Babbou for this wrong move.
“Playing the tournament in France not only deprives African audiences of watching world-class rugby at their doorstep, it also denies local economies of much-needed income from a high-profile event that would have driven the tourism and hospitality industries, and increased international exposure and investment.
“Moreover, it is not even ‘France’ as a whole that is hosting this vital African tournament. No, the Rugby Africa Cup 2022 is to be played in ‘Région Sud’, a region of France that ranks seventh-lowest in terms of population, and is the furthest away from the capital, Paris.
“The games would be played in Aix-en-Provence and Marseille – a city that is the beating heart of France’s football scene, but is hardly known for its love of rugby,” the statement said.
It added that the tournament to be played in France had not received massive endorsement by Sports Administrators in France with the absence of its Sports Minister at the signing ceremony.
“The Rugby Africa Cup has shrunk from a celebration of an entire continent, down to an unfancied provincial event in a distant sphere lacking the colour and charm of a welcoming host.
“At best, it is depressing and patronizing for the players and fans of African rugby. At worst, it is an insult to the whole continent of Africa. It reinforces the stereotypical depictions that Africa still endures in Western media, so it is incredibly disappointing that Rugby Africa’s President – an African himself – has chosen to follow this path,” the statement said.