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STATEMENT: Rugby World Cup 2023 - African Qualifiers

The international equality, diversity and equal opportunity charity, equitysport are disappointed and concerned by the decision by Rugby Africa's Executive Committee to play the African 2023 Rugby World Cup qualifiers in France.

The confusing decision to host an African tournament in Western Europe not only deprives potential local hosts from much-needed revenue streams that could expedite the ongoing development of the sport and equal opportunity in Africa, but it also risks arresting potential growth in fan engagement for African supporters of rugby.

Khaled Babbou, the Rugby Africa President accepted that the Kenyan, Zimbabwean and Namibian bids were particularly strong and that those federations have previously organised "other major tournaments for Rugby Africa brilliantly."

The opaque decision making processes being utilised by transnational governing bodies in sport are in dire need of reform; as are the pointed and out-dated insinuations made about an entire continent in justifying this kind of decision.

We, at equitysport, will continue to encourage a future-focused and long term approach to the development of all sports, particularly in the Global South. An approach that prioritises locally-driven capacity-building and equal opportunity to all over short-term solutions that are all too often laced with imperialistic and extractionist sentiment. The World Cup in 2023 and its qualifying process is not a surprise; with a longer term focus, there is absolutely no reason why the issues identified by the RA Executive Committee that have led to this decision could not have been resolved well ahead of July 2022.

Tim Harper, Founder and Executive Director at equitysport added:

"Too often, we hear terms like "international standards" in global sport, when what is meant is, "European expectations", and all too often we hear those in positions of power use out-dated insinuations and suggestions about threats to security and safety when talking about Africa.

Frankly, it beggars belief that a continent that in 2021 alone has hosted the African Nations Championship, the World Men's Handball Championships, the African Volleyball Championships, the African & Oceania Wrestling Olympic Qualification Tournament, the African Wrestling Championships, the Cadet World Fencing Championships, the Women's Indoor Africa Cup, the African Judo Championships, the African Weightlifting Championships, the Africa Beach Soccer Cup of Nations, the El Gouna International, the Tour du Rwanda, the Safari Rally, the African Taekwondo Championships, the CAF Champions League, Afrobasket 2021, the World Athletics U20 Championships, the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, the Women's Cricket World Cup Qualifier and the FIH Junior Hockey World Cup amongst others, is deemed not to have the capacity to host the Rugby Africa World Cup Qualifiers.

If this wasn't so disappointing, it would be laughable."

To read more about the decision, you can read the press release from Rugby Afrique here.


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equitysport is a UK-registered charity (1189559) that exists to advance and promote equality, diversity and equal opportunity in and through global sport. Through free-form development, targeted advocacy, vocational training and education programmes the charity seeks an inclusive and equitable sporting ecosystem that lives up to the true values of sport. Notes to Editors: For interviews or further comment, please contact the team via:

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