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Governing Bodies

King Mohammed VI hailed for Morocco’s Atlas Lions’ growing status




In 2009, King Mohammed VI officially opened the crown jewel of Morocco’s football investment – the Mohamed VI Football Complex – just outside Rabat.

The centre likened to the Clairefontaine in France or St George’s Park in England, was the beginning of an overhaul of the North African nation’s football structure.

The vision of HM King Mohammed VI, implemented daily by the Royal Moroccan Football Federation [FRMF], was to develop the next generation of footballers.

That investment, worth over US$15 million, has begun to pay off.

Top players like Nayef Aguerd, a centre-back for Premier League club West Ham United, and Sevilla forward Youssef En-Nesryi came through the Mohamed VI Complex academy.


“For us, at the Royal Moroccan Football Federation, it’s been about implementing the vision of His Majesty King Mohammed VI,” said special representative of the FRMF Omar Khayri.

The state-of-the-art national training centre contains four five-star hotels, eight FIFA standard pitches – one of which is indoor in a climate-controlled building – and a medical facility that includes a dentist.

Without a doubt, the success of the Atlas Lions at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar remains Africa’s best story in world football in recent times, but it is certainly not the result of luck and grit.

It is a result of clarity of vision coupled with expertise and planning. That is evidenced by the fact that the country’s clubs hold the men’s and women’s African Champions League titles.

They also won the men’s Confederations Cup, cementing their dominance in continental club football.


Morocco are also a previous winner of the African Nations Championship [CHAN], the continental tournament that exclusively features players who play domestically.

In the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations, they finished second after losing to South Africa in the final of the 2022 edition. They have qualified for their first FIFA World Cup.

At the weekend, Morocco’s 2-1 win over Brazil in an international friendly further underlined the North African country’s growing status as a heavyweight in African football.

It was their first-ever win over the Samba Boys, and Khyari has credited HM King Mohammed VI’s massive investment for the success.

In a match where both teams paid tribute to football legend Pele who died in December 2022, Soufiane Boufal and Abdelhamid Sbiri struck on either side of the half to send wild celebrations across Morocco.


Manchester United’s talisman Casemiro scored Brazil’s goal in Tangier, a city in north-western Morocco on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.

Before the massive win on Saturday, Morocco had suffered defeats in their only two other meetings. A 2-0 loss in a friendly in 1997 and a 3-0 loss in the group stage of the 1998 World Cup.

The 2-1 victory over Brazil came in a week when they became the first African nation to qualify for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations. This was after Liberia held South Africa to a disappointing 2-2 draw at home. 

Having beaten both Bafana Bafana and the Lone Stars in the three-team group, the Atlas Lions are guaranteed a place at the AFCON in Ivory Coast next January.

The victory over the five-time world champions, Brazil proves their 2022 Qatar World Cup heroics were not a fluke. The North African giants beat a Ronaldo-led Portugal 1-0 last year to become the first African team to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup.


National team coach Walid Regragui and his revered South African counterpart Pitso Mosimane are on record as crediting King Mohammed VI’s grand vision for the success of Moroccan football.

“HM King Mohammed VI has put a lot of means to advance soccer in Morocco,” Regragui said at the World Cup.

“That facility was built by the Government,” the three-time CAF Champions League winner, Mosimane, said after touring the facility.

Khayri added that the victory over mighty Brazil proves that the King’s foresight and great vision to develop football is bearing fruit.

“The King has been leading sports development from the front, and the win today is a result of his hard work and great plans not just for football but all sports. Beating Brazil is an immense pride moment for Morocco,” Khyari said.


The FRMF has also begun investing in women’s football, developing football in schools and clubs, and creating a national league structure.

In fact, Morocco is the only nation in the world to have two tiers of women’s football that are both fully professional.

“Remember, the King’s vision has also uplifted women’s football. Besides reaching the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations final last year and going to our first World Cup later this year, our Futsal team won the 2020 Africa Cup of Nations. This is all because HM King Mohammed VI has put in a lot of means to support the development of sport in the country,” said Khyari.

He believes the Atlas Lions have closed the gap between Africa and the best football-playing countries in the world.


Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

Governing Bodies

CAF set to break even after ‘toxic’ past



President Patrice Motsepe (left) has been vital to turning around the Confederation of African Football's financial fortunes, says secretary general Veron Mosengo-Omba (right)

The Confederation of African Football will be debt free next year as a result of improved governance since Patrice Motsepe became president of a “toxic” body in 2021, says its secretary general Veron Mosengo-Omba.

Installed as deputy just days after the South African billionaire was appointed president, Mosengo-Omba says Caf’s level of debt when the pair took over was about $40m (£31m).

He says this figure has more than halved since, with the tally set to drop even further when Caf’s financial accounts are presented later this year.

“I think we will present a [deficit] figure to the Caf congress of less than $12m (£9.3m),” Mosengo-Omba told BBC Sport Africa.

“For the next fiscal year, [the debt] will be zero.”


The Caf financial year runs from the start of July to the end of June, with accounts traditionally presented to congress in October, meaning the organisation could be debt-free in just under 12 months’ time.

Mosengo-Omba, who hails from DR Congo but who also holds Swiss nationality, says that credit for the turnaround must go to his 62-year-old boss.

“Motsepe and his executive coming in was, for me, a gift for African football,” said the lawyer, who worked as Fifa’s chief member associations officer before joining Cairo-based Caf.

“In 2021, Caf was a toxic company – nobody trusted Caf. When Motsepe came, he put the principle of good governance and integrity in all levels of the organisation.

“This brings confidence to our partners.”


One of Africa’s richest men, with a fortune estimated at $3.1bn, external (£2.4b) by Forbes, Motsepe replaced the previous administration led by Madagascar’s Ahmad.

Elected president in 2017 when he dethroned long-standing Caf president Issa Hayatou, Ahmad’s tenure was blighted by scandal, with the Malagasy – who denies wrongdoing – banned for two years by Fifa for breaking its ethics codes, including ‘misappropriation of funds’.

The Hayatou administration maintains that it left over $100m (£77.4m) in reserves when it departed, with the funds declining vastly under Ahmad, whose regime increased salaries, cut Caf’s biggest-ever broadcast deal before then suffering some Covid-enforced losses.

Under Motsepe meanwhile, the number of sponsors of Caf’s flagship Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) competition has risen from 10 for the 2021 finals in Cameroon to 17 for the 2023 edition, which was played in January this year.

It also gained a global television audience of 1.1 billion, with double that tally – 2.2 billion – accessing the tournament’s digital content.


“In Cameroon we generated about $4-5 million (£3-4m) profit. In Ivory Coast the profit was more than $75 million (£58m). This shows we are [going] in a good direction and for Morocco, the next edition, I think [the profit] will be increased by 50%,” said Mosengo-Omba.

Most of this increase is coming from sponsors and television rights, with the secretary general also declaring himself “very happy” that Caf generated $14m (£10.8m) after taking ticketing and hospitality in-house for the first time.

Despite recent comments by Afcon-winning Ivory Coast coach Emerse Fae, Mosengo-Omba dispelled suggestions that the tournament could become a four-yearly affair by reiterating the fact that the governing body’s greatest income comes every two years from the finals, which next kick off in December 2025.

“The periodicity of Afcon is not on the table,” he said. “We need the money from Afcon every two years to run football in Africa.”

Mosengo-Omba also sought to strongly defend Caf’s approach to dealing with allegations of corruption against some of its senior administrators, insisting it is “not protecting crooks”.


Malian federation president Mamatou Toure is currently on trial for embezzling public funds in the West African country, while counterpart Wadie Jary is facing corruption charges in Tunisia.

Both men, who have denied the charges after their detentions last year, remain both in prison and members of Caf’s executive committee.

Pressed on why neither has been suspended, Mosengo-Omba said the organisation could only take action once court cases are settled in their respective countries.

“We suspend [people] provisionally if we are investigating the case ourselves,” he added.

“We respect the sovereignty of each country. When we have the verdict of the court, we’ll take a decision. Nobody is above the law in Caf – no-one.”


In May, Toure – a member of the Fifa council – reportedly dialled into a Fifa meeting from his prison cell in the Malian capital Bamako.

“If Messrs Toure and Jary committed crime according to the respective regulations of each country, take them to court,” the Swiss-Congolese said.

“How can Caf intervene in the situation?”


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Governing Bodies

Tinubu backs Amaju’s FIFA Council re-election bid



Former Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) president, Amaju Pinnick has secured the backing of Nigeria’s President,  Bola Tinubu in his bid to get another term in office as one of Africa’s representatives in FIFA Council.

The 37-member FIFA  Council is the main decision making body of the organisation in the intervals of FIFA Congress. 

Pinnick is the third Nigerian to ever sit in the FIFA Council after Oyo Orok Oyo (1980-1988) and Dr. Amos Adamu (2006-2010).

Pinnick was elected into the council on 12 March 2021. He is bidding for re-election in 2025 when the current term lapses.

According to a media release from the State House and signed by Chief Ajuri Ngelale, the Special Adviser to the President on Media & Publicity,


President Bola Tinubu expresses strong support for Nigeria’s bid for re-election into the FIFA Council

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Governing Bodies

Save Our Soccer, African Sports Journalists plead with Motsepe




An SOS has been sent by the International Sports Press – Africa (AIPS -Africa) to the President of Confederation of African Football (CAF), Dr. Patrice Motsepe to save the soul of African soccer.

 The sports writers’ body has written an open letter to Motsepe on the need to do more to save African football.

The letter, written Monday in Dakar, is premised on the recurring scheduling problems that “have made CAF a victim of collateral damage from the “war” between UEFA and FIFA.”

Continuing in the letter signed by AIPS-Africa President, Abdoulaye Thiam, the sports writers’ body noted that UEFA contributed to overloading of the international calendar with the creation of the Nations League, which is played on FIFA dates


Owing to the congested international calendar, football competitions in Africa have been major victims.

AIPS wrote: …”the stuttering and uncertainties surrounding the programming of the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) leave many wondering about the future of our continent’s most prestigious competition, which is struggling to find a place in the international calendar.

“Added to this, the external influences and the overload of the international calendar, modelled on the European interests, increases the scepticism surrounding the survival of CAF’s most lucrative and economically viable tournament.

“As a result, therefore, it is rare, if not impossible, for an African team to find a European team to spar with, except when they share the same group in a World Cup draw every four years.     

“As for FIFA, in addition to the Arab World Cup, it has also created the Club World Cup. Worse still, it decided to stage the latter competition from June 15 to July 13, 2025, a period initially chosen by Morocco to host the AFCON 2025. In fact, Cairo’s dependence on Zurich enabled FIFA’s latest competition to happily shake up the 67-year-old African Cup of Nations.”


Also affected by the global football calendar are the scheduling of the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations and African Women’s Champions League.

The journalists recalled that the changing of AFCON tournaments from the even-ending years to the odd  was to avert situations of clashing with World Cup years and to avert exhaustion on players.

The situation is such that scheduling of tournaments in Africa is now determined by compromise reached with UEFA and FIFA.

AIPS averred that “it is important to deconstruct the image of Africa as a prominent stakeholder in the global game with huge voice of 54 member associations and votes being presented as an electoral cattle-tank, to be adequately given their fair share during debates and dialogues with FIFA, by offering constructive solutions with a view to accelerating a reform of the international calendar.

“It is therefore expected from CAF leaders to ensure respect for African Football which is full of great administrators and players alike…Mr. President (Motsepe), you claim to be a disciple of Nelson Mandela and a well respectable man. A man of principles. So do kindly refuse and remain our inspiration than anything else.”  

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