After winning the 2018 edition of the CHAN in Morocco, the Atlas Lions came to the end of Mali in the final of the CHAN 2020 in Yaoundé and thus become the first African team to win two consecutive editions. And this performance is not the result of chance, quite the contrary.
The Royal Moroccan Football Federation, through its President Fouzi Lekjaa, has put in place, since 2014, a real strategy for the development of local soccer.
As a reminder, the Kingdom now has more than 200 synthetic turf fields that meet the standards, about twenty stadiums with natural turf and lighting standards, five regional training centers and the famous Mohammed VI Football Complex, a unique infrastructure in Africa. These facilities cover almost 30 hectares and offer state-of-the-art equipment in accordance with FIFA standards, making this jewel of Moroccan soccer one of the most important and efficient sports complexes in the world. At the same time, the Moroccan authorities have also emphasized the local infrastructure. “In the 12 regions of Morocco, we have a team piloting regional development, starting with the detection of talent, which must go through the training centers of clubs. That’s why we have made a huge effort to provide clubs with training centers.
The regional centers are the same as the national center, but in miniature,” said the President of the FRMF.
“This is our conception of the development cycle, which begins with the detection in mass soccer, and which must move via the clubs, to the regional center, and the national center of excellence,” continued Lekjaa. Thus, in Saidia, in western Morocco, the FRMF has built a technical center, the Regional Center of Saidia, strongly inspired by the Mohammed VI Complex.
The development of infrastructure is accompanied by a school component, to try to tighten the net a little more and not miss any potential talent. “We have started a Sport Etude program with the Ministry of National Education to have school structures throughout the Kingdom, which can accommodate boys and girls who practice soccer on a permanent basis with a program adapted to all levels of schooling,” said the President of the FRMF.
Regularly candidate for the organization of the FIFA World Cup, Morocco has without question the best tourist offer of the African continent, with first-class infrastructures (accommodation and transport) and soccer fields meeting international standards.
The second axis of the strategy implemented by the FRMF is the good governance of clubs. Indeed, the FRMF supports the national clubs on the administrative and financial levels. On the one hand, the elite clubs are being transformed into limited companies and have been placed under the supervision of the National Directorate of Control and Management. On the other hand, the FRMF provides each first division club with an annual subsidy of approximately 600,000 euros. Not to mention the financial aid and support given to all clubs participating in continental competitions.
Also, the FRMF has put the training of players at the heart of the development of national soccer. The national clubs have quality training centers (FUS Rabat, RS Berkane …) and relies on players from the local pool, while other clubs have academies of the first rank. For example, Raja Casablanca has just inaugurated two weeks ago a brand new soccer academy.
The FRMF has also focused its strategy on promoting the training of managers, including coaches, but also medical staff and referees.
The triumph of Moroccan soccer is also due to the FRMF’s excellent management of the covid-19 crisis: the 2019/2020 Botola has resumed with an effective health protocol, which has allowed Moroccan fans to experience an epic season, with three teams vying for the title on the last day.
In addition, despite the crisis, the FRMF has managed to get a new sponsor, Inwi (telecom sector), hired a company specialized in the programming of championship matches, and to generalize the VAR to the second division.
It is this strategy that has allowed the Moroccan championship, the Botola Pro, to be the best in Africa in terms of performance. According to the rankings of CAF member associations, since 2020, the Moroccan championship has become the best championship in Africa, with 3 clubs in the top 10 best clubs in Africa.
In the 2019-2020 season, 4 of the 8 semi-finalists of the Champions League and the Confederations Cup were from the Botola. This means that all Moroccan clubs have reached the last four. The Confederation Cup was won by the Renaissance Sportive de Berkane ahead of the Egyptian club Pyramids FC.
In recent years, Moroccan clubs have also won several competitions, which is notable because in the past, the victories of Moroccan clubs in continental competitions was a feat while today, Moroccan clubs are often favorites in interclub competitions.
Last year, Moroccan clubs won all the continental competitions of CAF.
It is this strategy that has been in place for several years that has allowed Morocco to win two consecutive CHAN, but also to qualify the U20 national team to the U-20 AFCON in Mauritania, which had not happened for 15 years. This in-depth work, at all levels of soccer, has enabled Morocco to have the best African Futsal team in history (8th in the FIFA rankings), with a solid record of success: 2 CAN, 2 Arab Cup 1 Confederations Cup and an elimination in the Semi final of the last World Cup.
So many elements that explain the success of the Moroccan selection on the African scene, which in the opinion of many observers of African soccer, largely deserves its triumph at the continental level.
To conclude, President Lekjaa announced last year a major development plan for women’s soccer. This has materialized in the implementation of a Marshall Plan with a six-fold increase in the budget for women’s soccer, the establishment for the first time of a professional women’s league under the aegis of a dedicated institution, the National League of Women’s Football, also newly created.
French coach Reynald Pedros, two-time UEFA Women’s Champions League winner, has been hired, illustrating the FRMF’s ambition for women’s soccer. In 2022, Morocco organized for the first time the women’s CAN. It was a huge celebration for African soccer, with records in terms of audience and spectators, and especially a great journey for the Atlas Lionesses who reached the final of the competition, with a ticket to participate in the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023, knowing that the U17 women have also managed the feat of qualifying for the FIFA World Cup 2022.
Finally, the FRMF is not left behind in terms of international cooperation. Since 2015, the FRMF has carried out an ambitious policy of international cooperation. More than 40 partnerships were signed in 2016 and this with African federations from all sub-confederations of CAF. A very large majority of these agreements have been extended in 2019, which illustrates the importance and efficiency of this type of partnership agreement. The Kingdom’s institutional return to the African Union, thanks to the visionary diplomacy of King Mohammed VI, provides a solid basis for the FRMF to make this strategic choice of strengthening the international cooperation policy that opens up to its counterparts in Africa.
The partnership agreements between the FRMF and the other African federations are articulated around several axes: the support in terms of realization of sports infrastructures, the exchange of best practices, the training of technical and administrative executives, the hosting of training courses for the preparation of national teams, but also the refereeing or the organization of friendly matches between the different categories of national teams. Note that these partnership agreements are co-constructed between the FRMF and each African federation, and they are adjusted according to the needs of both parties.
This international cooperation can also take the form of financial support. Thus there was an act that is a first in the field of South-South cooperation, and this at the initiative of the FRMF, which has graciously made available to the Rwandan Football Federation (FERWAFA) more than 2 million dollars, from the FIFA Forward funds and initially intended for the FRMF.
This is a first and a model that we would like to see duplicated more often in order to help more federations reach the same level.
The FRMF is also active in the training of administrative and technical staff. A delegation from Djibouti, made up of the future managers of the national soccer academy, came to Morocco in 2021 to complete their training.
The FRMF is committed to the training of technical executives: for this, they launched in March 2018 a training for the CAF pro license, whose first session was open to four African coaches.
The organization of training camps and friendly matches were also among the priorities of the FRMF in terms of international cooperation.
During the last FIFA date, more than 12 African teams came to Morocco to play friendly tournaments. Due to the absence of homologation of some stadiums by CAF, more than ten African federations played their official matches in Morocco (Burkina Faso, Equatorial Guinea…).
Remember that several teams have prepared the CHAN 2018 in Morocco, and five teams qualified for the U-20 in AFCON Mauritania have prepared in Morocco, including Niger, Gambia, Burkina Faso and Cameroon.
This is not only for the A team but also for all the youth categories that are involved (U-20 and U-17). This allows the African partners of Morocco to prepare in the best conditions and to be able to play or train in the Mohammed VI Football Complex.
This international strategy of the Federation does not only concern the signing of conventions, but above all the realization of acts on the ground, to develop African soccer, and this type of action is now a component of the FRMF’s DNA.
Indeed, they have developed and accompanied projects for the construction of soccer fields, notably in Burkina Faso (Ziniaré), where the project is finalized, but also in Sao Tome (Riboque), where the field is being finalized. Other projects of development of grounds are in the course of deployment or will soon be launched, in particular in Djibouti and Liberia.
On this subject, Faouzi Lekjaa, the President of the FRMF, said “We have allowed, we allow and we will allow the African national teams to come at the time they want to spend training courses and take advantage of technological developments and performance that exists at the Complex Mohammed VI because in any case the success at the level of our continent can only be collective and the evolution can only be collective.
Finally, the women’s national teams are not left out. Thus, the Moroccan women’s team received Gabon and Ghana in 2019, before going to play in Liberia and Ghana in 2020.
Morocco provides African federations and their players with its medical expertise, offering the possibility to be treated at the clinic of the Mohammed VI Football Complex.
Finally, the FRMF supports other African federations by donating sports equipment, thousands of balls have been sent to more than 20 federations including South Sudan, Eritrea, Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania, Somalia, Rwanda …
Also, sports equipment was made available to the Malagasy Football Federation and to the Central African Football Federation.
Work sites, strategies, steps and huge commitments of the FRMF on the continental and international level, which allow to promote Africa and to develop its soccer in accordance with the high orientations of the King of Morocco who places Africa in the priorities of his diplomacy and his foreign policy.
– Information Infrastructure and development model FIFA
– Perfect organization by Morocco of CAF competitions
(Champions League Final, CAF Super Cup Final)
– English language elements on the Moroccan model of soccer development
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