Moroccans bitter over World Cup 2026 flop

first_imgIn a tweet, Prime Minister Saad Eddine El Othmani saluted the “seriousness and professionalism” of Morocco’s bid committee, which itself warmly congratulated the winners.On the streets of Rabat, nearly deserted during the final days of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, 49-year-old Abdelmula was less diplomatic.“It was Africa’s turn, but (the vote) was biased because Morocco is part of the Third World and the powerful may have conspired against it,” he told AFP.Said, 62, blamed the African kingdom’s loss on US pressure.“Unfortunately, we can’t help it. Things turned political when President (Donald) Trump threatened those who were going to vote for us,” he said.– Trump ‘threats’ –During the bidding process, Trump had threatened that nations that did not support the North American bid should not expect US support on other issues.If FIFA, world football’s governing body, had been “impartial, it would have disqualified the North American bid after the threats from Donald Trump”, said Driss Abis, a sports commentator and former coach.While some on social media were outraged by Morocco’s loss, others questioned its capacity to host the tournament.“We must be realistic, we do not have the infrastructure it takes, our stadiums exist only on paper,” said 28-year-old Sufyan.Moroccans had held out hope until the last minute, with Wednesday morning newspaper headlines reading “Morocco believes it” and “Decisive day for the dream”.Even after the results were announced, the local press congratulated Morocco on its bid but said the outcome had come as a “cold shower”.“I was sad when the winner was announced,” said former Moroccan footballer Abdelkrim El Hadrioui.“At the same time, I wasn’t surprised because Morocco went up against the American giant, which mobilised in recent weeks to influence voters,” Hadrioui said.Morocco’s bid was its fifth failure, after setbacks in 2010, 2006, 1998 and 1994.– ‘Knives in the back’ –Saudi Arabia, Morocco’s long-time ally, “led an all-out campaign” in favour of the North American trio’s World Cup bid, according to local press.And while the Arab League in April announced its support for Morocco’s bid, seven Arab countries voted for the “United 2026” candidacy.“God protect me from my friends, my enemies I can deal with,” Moncef Belkhayat, an ex-sports minister and a member of the kingdom’s bid committee, quipped before the vote.Samira Sitail, head of public broadcaster M2, tweeted: “The United States has a new state. It is Arab and Muslim, easily exploitable, and it loves to put knives in friends’ backs.”Morocco had hoped the location and geography of the kingdom, at the crossroads of Europe and Africa, would make it a strong candidate, as well as its passion for football.But a FIFA task force deployed to rank potential venues had given Morocco an average mark of 2.7 out of 5, just above the required minimum of 2 for candidates.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000The president of the Moroccan Football Federation, Fouzi Lekjaa, presented the unsuccessful bid to host the 2026 World Cup in Moscow © AFP / Mladen ANTONOVRABAT, Morocco, Jun 13 – The award of the 2026 World Cup to North America on Wednesday was met with bitter disappointment in Morocco, after its fifth failed bid to host the tournament.The joint ticket of the United States, Canada and Mexico won 134 votes, compared to 65 for Morocco, at a FIFA Congress in Moscow where this year’s World Cup kicks off on Thursday.last_img read more

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Winter Olympics 2018: North Korea could send a delegation to South Korea

first_imgCOMMENTS Kim Jong Un ‘open to dialogue’ with South Korea OLYMPICS-PYEONGCHANG   –  Reuters North Korea × SHARE SHARE EMAIL North Korea likely to participate in Winter Games RELATED 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics and Paralympics will be safe: S Korea North Korea could send a delegation to the South for the 2018 Winter Olympics, in the first indication Pyongyang may participate in next month’s Games despite tensions over its nuclear weapons programme.North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un said in his new year’s address today said, “We are willing to take necessary measures including to dispatch our delegation” to the Pyeongchang Games which Seoul and organisers have billed as a “peace Olympics”. The Winter Olympics will take place from February 9 to 25, with the Paralympics scheduled to begin on March 9.Games organisers and Seoul have both been keen for North Korea to take part, but Pyongyang’s participation in sporting events in the South has largely depended on the political and military situation on the Korean peninsula.The venues for the Games lie just 80 kilometres (50 miles) south of the tense border with North Korea and the build-up to the event has been overshadowed by tensions running high over North Korea’s escalating nuclear and missile tests.Kim appeared to extend an olive branch to Seoul in his address to the nation today, saying the Olympics would “serve as a good chance to display our Korean people’s grace toward the world and we sincerely hope the Games will be a success”. He cautioned however that “as long as an unstable state which is neither war nor peace continues, the North and the South cannot guarantee a success of the Olympics, sit down for talks or move forward for reunification”.The two Koreas have been divided by a demilitarised zone since the end of the 1950–53 Korean war.Two North Korean athletes – pairs figures skaters – have qualified for the Games but missed the October 30 deadline to confirm to the International Skating Union that they would participate. They could, however, still take part via an invitation from the International Olympic Committee.South Korean president Moon Jae-In last month proposed delaying Seoul’s annual joint military exercises with the US until after the Games to ease the situation. The Key Resolve and Foal Eagle drills usually start in late February or early March and run until the end of April, usually contributing to a spike in tensions, with Pyongyang condemning the exercises as rehearsals for invasion. null OLYMPICS-PYEONGCHANG   –  Reuters South Korea proposes high-level talks with North on Jan 9 Published on COMMENT North Korea triggers 2018 Winter Olympics security scare SHARE January 01, 2018 sport South Korea Russia banned from 2018 Winter Olympics over dopinglast_img read more

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