With just a few weeks to go until the kick-off of the FIFA Club World Cup Morocco 2013, FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter took part in a round table event with Moroccan journalists via phone confernce to discuss, among other subjects, the final preparations for the tournament and what the country and competing teams can expect from the tenth edition of the prestigious event.
Following Guangzhou Evergrande’s triumph in the final of the AFC Champions League, the line-up for Morocco 2013 is now complete.
The newly crowned kings of Asian football will take their place alongside Raja Casablanca, representing the host nation, UEFA Champions League winners Bayern Munich, CAF Champions League winners Al Ahly, OFC Champions League winners Auckland City, CONCACAF Champions League victors Monterrey, and Atletico Mineiro, who captured the Copa Libertadores earlier this year.
“Morocco is definitely ready to welcome these great club teams,” announced President Blatter, in response to a question about FIFA’s final inspection visit.
“FIFA not only carried out an inspection, but a proper visit, to verify that this major international sporting event, a milestone for Morocco and Africa, will be successful. We have confidence in the Local Organising Committee and we have the support of the Moroccan government and His Majesty, the King.
“The two chosen stadiums – in Agadir and Marrakesh – are in an excellent condition and should enable us to see some great matches. We have no doubts from an organisational point of view; it’s going to be a success,” he continued.
If this prediction proves correct, Morocco could well gain significant long-term benefits from the tournament, which runs from 11 to 21 December. The head of FIFA confirmed this, when asked if the competition could be used as a trial run for the potential hosting of a larger event in the future.
“The Moroccans made a bid to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, and they weren’t far away from getting it, as the voting was pretty close in the end,” he pointed out.
“Even back then, His Majesty and the then President of the Moroccan FA told us that despite not being selected, Morocco would continue working on football development and building new stadiums. And that’s what you did!
“This therefore augurs well in terms of organising other FIFA competitions, including – why not? – the FIFA World Cup when Africa gets a chance to host again. This Club World Cup will be a very useful test for the future.”
The FIFA President provided a further shot in the arm for Moroccan and indeed African football by confirming that a seminar for the technical directors from 27 of the continent’s member associations would be held in tandem with the tournament.
“African football development was already given a boost by our ‘Win in Africa with Africa’ programme during the 2010 World Cup, which was a huge success from a financial viewpoint, as each association received a football development bonus,” he explained.
“But we continue to follow the changes at national league level in Africa – that’s very important.”
It was by emerging victorious from Morocco’s domestic league, known as the Botola Pro, that Raja Casablanca earned the right to lock horns with some of the planet’s top teams. It was not that long ago, however, that representatives from only two continents had the possibility of vying for the title of ‘world’s greatest club side’.
“For many years, there was only the Intercontinental Cup, which pitted the South American champions against the European champions,” recalled the head of world football’s governing body.
“This became unacceptable, because club competitions had developed considerably, especially in Africa and Asia, and it’s now up to teams from those regions to show that they can compete with the best, and even defeat the best.
"Good luck, then, to Al Ahly and Raja Casablanca. Moroccan fans have the chance to witness a major international event. I’m sure we’ll see full stadiums and a fantastic atmosphere throughout the tournament,” concluded the FIFA President.