Johannesburg: Egypt have quit the race to host the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations two weeks after 19 people died outside a Cairo football stadium, a government minister said on Sunday.
“We have decided to withdraw our application and will support that of Algeria,” sports minister Khalid Abdul Aziz told Egyptian media without giving a reason for the decision.
Gabon and Ghana are the other candidates to replace violence-torn Libya as hosts.
The Egyptian move follows 19 deaths when police and football supporters clashed before a top-of-the-table league fixture between Cairo clubs Zamalek and ENPPI.
All domestic football was suspended indefinitely by the authorities after the tragedy.
More than 70 football supporters died in Port Said three years ago following a league game involving local club Al Masry and Egyptian and African giants Al Ahly.
Abdul Aziz was speaking after Fifa executive committee member Hany Abu Rida from Egypt told reporters it did not make sense for two Arab countries to compete against each other.
“Egypt will not compete with Algeria — on the contrary we will give the best support we can,” he said.
Algeria (1990), Gabon (2012) and Ghana (1963, 1978, 2000, 2008) are previous hosts or co-hosts of the biennial African football showpiece.
The winners will be decided by a vote among African Football Confederation (CAF) executives in Cairo during April.
Egypt have staged the Cup of Nations four times, winning three of those tournaments in 1959, 1986 and 2006 and finished third as 1974 hosts.