Wednesday,19 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1217, (16 - 22 October 2014)
Wednesday,19 September, 2018
Issue 1217, (16 - 22 October 2014)

Ahram Weekly

Twin peaks

Morocco is gearing up to host two huge football tournaments

Al-Ahram Weekly

The official draw of the FIFA Club World Cup to be held in December was conducted in Marrakech, Morocco, host of the 11th edition of the event.

In addition to the many Moroccan dignitaries present, including the country’s Minister for Youth Affairs and Sport Mohamed Ouzzine, and the Chairman of the Morocco 2014 Local Organising Committee (LOC) and the Royal Moroccan Football Association (FRMF), Fouzi Lekjaa, numerous FIFA officials, including FIFA Executive Committee member Hani Abo Rida, were also in attendance at the ceremony.

Abu Rida was assigned by FIFA to head the FIFA Organising Committee of the competition which will take place in December.
In addition, representatives of the five teams which have already qualified – Auckland City FC (New Zealand), Cruz Azul FC (Mexico), Moghreb Athletic de Tetouan (Morocco, the host nation), Real Madrid CF (Spain) and CA San Lorenzo (Argentina) – sat in on the draw, which was carried out before members of the national and international media. Only missing was the African representative which is yet to be decided. The winner of the two-legged CAF Champions League final on 26 October and 1 November 2014, being contested between ES Setif of Algeria and AS V. Club of Congo DR, will qualify for Morocco 2014.

Ahli of Egypt will miss out on this year’s tournament after failing to win the African Champions League. Ahli have reached the final of the consolation Confederation Cup and could become the first Egyptian club to win it, however, the Confed does not lead to the world cup for clubs. Ahli did reach the world cup five times, coming in third in 2006.

Broadcast live, the evening commenced with the showing of a film describing the “wonderful atmosphere” to be generated at the Club World Cup in Morocco.

The night continued with the showing of a second film which depicted the magic that surrounds the Club World Cup, its great players and its iconic moments. It was an appropriate moment to remind those present that among the approximately 300,000 football clubs worldwide, just seven have the honour of participating in the competition every year.

Morocco’s Youth and Sports Minister Mohamed Ouzzine delivered a keynote speech in which he expressed his heartfelt gratitude to FIFA for having chosen Morocco as the host nation of the Club World Cup. “Following the success of the 2013 tournament and Raja Club Athletic’s exceptional run, Morocco proved once again that it is a country to be reckoned with when it comes to sport, and to football in particular,” Ouzzine said.

“That is why the Ministry for Youth Affairs and Sport has given its support and assistance to the FRMF, so as to showcase Moroccan football and create world-class infrastructure.”

Abo Rida followed with an address in which he congratulated the hosts. “Morocco has demonstrated the extraordinary things it is capable of. I’m confident that the 2014 event will go well,” he said.

“The country’s hospitality, its different cultures and its passion for the beautiful game are set to transform this Club World Cup into a great festival of football. Cooperation, togetherness and fair play – that is what will make this event a success.”

Next, Lekjaa addressed the audience, saying how the event held last year was of an extremely ambitious nature. “It was a tremendous success and inspired Morocco to put a huge effort into staging a great show this year.”

Lekjaa described his meeting with FIFA President Blatter on 23 September 2014. “It was an opportunity to put forward Morocco’s objectives of establishing workshops and an action plan to promote football, particularly via the upgrading of stadiums in Marrakech, Tangiers, Agadir and Fez,” he  said. “This was in line with the His Majesty’s vision – he is keen to realise Morocco’s ambitions of hosting one of the game’s major tournaments.”

A film recounting the history of the Club World Cup was next on the agenda, followed by a spectacular light painting show. It was then time for the draw, which was conducted by FIFA Competitions Director Mustapha Fahmi and Oliver Vogt of FIFA, who both congratulated the Moroccans for the high-quality show and the work done by the LOC, prior to running through the draw’s procedural details and inviting former Olympic gold medallist and International Olympic Committee Vice President Nawal Al-Moutawakel to initiate the proceedings of the draw.

In the draw, the quarter-final line-up for the Club World Cup was determined as the winner of the CAF Champions League final pitting AS Vita Club (Congo DR) against ES Setif of Algeria will face the winner of Match day 1 between Moghreb Athletic de Tetouan of the host nation Morocco and Auckland City FC of New Zealand. The winner will then play San Lorenzo of Argentina who booked their semi-final spot for winning the Copa Libertadores.

The other quarter-final will see CONCACAF Champions League winners Mexico’s Cruz Azul play the winner of the AFC Champions League final between Western Sydney Wanderers of Australia and Al Hilal of Saudia Arabia. The winner will then play UEFA Champions League holders Real Madrid of Spain in the semi-finals.

After a video looking back at the feats of Raja Club Athletic in 2013, a group photograph of the representatives of the qualified teams brought the evening to a close.

The 11th edition of the FIFA Club World Cup, one of football’s most prestigious competitions, will run from 10 to 20 December 2014. But on Friday Morocco did a stunning U-turn by writing to CAF requesting a change in the dates of the Africa Cup of Nations, which Morocco will be hosting as well, scheduled to take place in January, for fear of the Ebola virus. However, CAF rejected the request.

According to the CAF website, the letter which was sent by the Morocco Ministry of Youth and Sports, was seeking a deferral of the schedule of the Orange Africa Cup of Nations Morocco 2015 fixed for 17 January to 8 February, due to the Ebola outbreak.

“CAF has registered the request and wishes to state that there are no changes of the schedules of its competitions and events,” the statement said.

“It must be noted that since the first edition in 1957, the Africa Cup of Nations has never witnessed a deferral or a change in schedule.

“CAF has also been cautions since the commencement of the final round qualifiers of the Orange Africa Cup of Nations Morocco 2015 on the health risks posed by the Ebola virus and has consistently applied precautionary principles, taking into account the recommendations of the World Health Organisation and various medical experts.

The request of the Moroccan party will be discussed at the next meeting of the CAF Executive Committee scheduled for 2 November 2014 in Algiers, Algeria, on the sidelines of the second leg of the 2014 Orange CAF Champions League final.

“Subsequently, a meeting will be organised between CAF and the Moroccans in Rabat on 3 November 2014 and the CAF delegation will be led by its president, Issa Hayatou,” the statement concluded.

The writer is a freelance journalist.

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