Morocco has been stripped of hosting the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) and the national side flung out of the competition after the country said it wanted to postpone the tournament due to fears over the Ebola epidemic, the African Football Confederation (CAF) announced on Tuesday.
The decision was taken during a six-hour meeting of the CAF executive committee at its Cairo headquarters.
Morocco has said since early October that its call for a postponement was "dictated by health reasons of the most dangerous kind, linked to the serious risk of the spread of the deadly Ebola pandemic."
CAF called on the Moroccans to change their minds, but decided at Tuesday's meeting that the response they had been given "clearly indicates that the Royal Moroccan Football Federation reiterated its refusal to hold the competition on the dates indicated"
"Therefore, having firmly and unanimously notified on 3 November its decision to keep the competition on the dates indicated, the Executive Committee confirmed that the Orange Africa Cup of Nations 2015 will not take place in Morocco."
The CAF statement also said that other countries had indicated a willingness to host the tournament and that a decision on that would "shortly" be taken.
The dates set for the 2015 CAN, the African continent's most prestigious football tournament, are from January 17-February 9.
The CAF executive committee confirmed that qualification matches for the tournament will continue as planned on November 14-15 to decide which 15 teams will join that of the new host country for the finals.
- Exaggerated -
The deadly Ebola virus has killed at least 4,960 people, mainly in the West African countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.
Morocco fears that an influx of foreign fans could help spread the epidemic.
CAF has said the fears are exaggerated and that only a limited number of foreign fans will go there.
The Ebola epidemic first hit the Cup of Nations in August when Seychelles forfeited a qualifying tie rather than host a return match against Sierra Leone.
As the death toll mounted, CAF barred Sierra Leone and Guinea from hosting their qualifying group games.
There was no word from CAF on which countries had expressed an interest and a willingness to host the tournament at such short notice, but there had been reports that the governing body had approached seven countries about standing in as emergency hosts.
Algeria, Egypt, South Africa and Sudan reportedly declined, Ghana and Nigeria have not publicly responded, while the identity of the seventh country was unknown.
Most members of the CAF executive committee arrived in their cars, went straight into the meeting and later left the building without making any comment
Apart from beng kicked out of the competition, CAF indicated in its statement that the Moroccan Football Federation could be hit by further sanctions, notably financial.
"The Organising Committee of the Orange Africa Cup of Nations will later apply the statutory provisions that are required due to a breach of the Royal Moroccan Football Federation regulatory and contractual provisions, including those set out in the Host Association Agreement signed between CAF and the Royal Moroccan Football Federation in April 2014," it said.