Sat, Jun 23, 2018 - Page 16 News List

FIFA World Cup: FIFA criticism adds to Morocco losses

AP, MOSCOW

At its first World Cup in 20 years, Morocco has a horrible set of results to show for efforts on and off the field.

FIFA’s public condemnation on Thursday of Morocco winger Noureddine Amrabat for questioning the integrity of a US referee added to a sense of national injustice over a tough nine days in Russia.

The first team eliminated from contention often outplayed Portugal and Iran, but has no goals and no points from two 1-0 losses.

Neither will Morocco host the 2026 World Cup. Impressive late lobbying in Moscow last week failed to overcome the US-Canada-Mexico bid that was clearly favored by FIFA leadership.

Morocco was also criticized this week by FIFA for “questionable handling” of a suspected concussion case — again involving Amrabat.

“There is one thing I am sure of is that the whole Moroccan people are very proud of its team,” Morocco coach Herve Renard said on Wednesday after losing to Portugal.

Many of about 25,000 Morocco fans at Luzhniki Stadium, and more back home, vented about what they saw as unfair refereeing decisions.

“We felt like we were playing in Casablanca,” Renard said. “Some people drove all the way to Moscow. This is something you will never be able to take from them.”

The coach’s angry response to one challenge led to a lecture from referee Mark Geiger for demanding video review to award a penalty.

That incident also centered on Amrabat, whose claim in a post-game television interview that he was told that Geiger asked to get Cristiano Ronaldo’s shirt after the game infuriated FIFA.

“FIFA unequivocally condemns the allegations,” it said. “FIFA would like to remind all teams of their duty to respect all principles of fair play.”

Days earlier, FIFA said the “questionable handling” by Morocco staff of Amrabat’s head injury against Iran after taking a crashing face-first fall to the turf.

Medical staff trying to get Amrabat back in the action slapped his cheeks while lifting him to his feet like a groggy boxer.

“FIFA will address this matter with the Royal Moroccan Football Federation,” FIFA said on Thursday about Morocco’s decision to select Amrabat again just five days later.

Defying widespread concerns, Renard described Amrabat as a “warrior,” and the player said he was best placed to judge his fitness.

The federation did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

Within hours of the 2026 vote defeat, Moroccan King Mohammed VI ordered a renewed campaign to secure the 2030 tournament. There is a speculation of teaming with Spain and Portugal in a three-nation bid that, while making geographical sense, would need FIFA to allow hosting across continents.

After five failed bids since the 1980s, nothing seems to come easy for Morocco in the World Cup.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top