Memorable night brings Morocco 2014 into focus

All eyes were on Marrakech on Saturday, as the official draw for the FIFA Club World Cup Morocco 2014 took place in the renowned La Mamounia hotel.

As well as the many Moroccan dignitaries present, including the country’s Minister for Youth Affairs and Sport, Mohamed Ouzzine, and the Chairman of the Morroco 2014 Local Organising Committee (LOC) and the Royal Moroccan Football Association (FRMF), Fouzi Lekjaa, numerous FIFA officials, such as FIFA Executive Committee member Hany Abo Rida, were also in attendance at the ceremony.

In addition, representatives of the five teams already qualified for the contest – Auckland City FC (New Zealand), Cruz Azul FC (Mexico), Moghreb Athletic de Tetouan (Morocco, the host nation), Real Madrid CF (Spain) and CA San Lorenzo (Argentina) – sat in on the draw, which was carried out before members of the national and international media.

Broadcast live, the evening commenced with the showing of a film describing the wonderful atmosphere generated at the Club World Cup in Morocco. Presenter Sana Zaim then took to the stage, emphasising the fact that the North African nation now excels at hosting major sporting events. “That explains the trust that FIFA continues to place in Morocco,” she noted.

The night continued with the showing of a second film, which depicted the magic that surrounds the Club World Cup, its great players and its iconic moments. It was an appropriate moment to remind those present that among the approximately 300,000 football clubs worldwide, just seven have the honour of participating in the competition every year.

The country’s hospitality, its different cultures and its passion for the beautiful game are set to transform this Club World Cup into a great festival of football.

Mohamed Ouzzine delivered a keynote speech in which he expressed his heartfelt gratitude to FIFA for having chosen Morocco as the host nation of the Club World Cup. “Following the success of the 2013 tournament and Raja Club Athletic’s exceptional run, Morocco proved once again that it is a country to be reckoned with when it comes to sport, and to football in particular,” said the Minister.

“That is why the Ministry for Youth Affairs and Sport has given its support and assistance to the FRMF, so as to showcase Moroccan football and create world-class infrastructure,” he continued.

Hany Abo Rida also took time to congratulate the hosts. “Morocco has demonstrated the extraordinary things it is capable of. I’m confident that the 2014 event will go well,” he said.

“The country’s hospitality, its different cultures and its passion for the beautiful game are set to transform this Club World Cup into a great festival of football. Cooperation, togetherness and fair play – that is what will make this event a success.”

Lofty aims Subsequently, Fouzi Lekjaa talked of the “extremely ambitious nature of the first edition, which was a tremendous success and inspired Morocco to put a huge effort into staging a great show.”

He then described his meeting with FIFA President Blatter on 23 September 2014. “It was an opportunity to put forward Morocco’s objectives of establishing workshops and an action plan to promote football, particularly via the upgrading of stadiums in Marrakech, Tangiers, Agadir and Fez,” he  explained. “This was in line with the His Majesty's vision – he is keen to realise Morocco’s ambitions of hosting one of the game’s major tournaments.”

A film recounting the history of the Club World Cup was next on the agenda, and this was followed by a spectacular light painting show. It was then time for the draw, which was conducted by Mustapha Fahmy and Oliver Vogt of FIFA, who both congratulated the Moroccans for the high-quality show and the work done by the LOC, prior to running through the draw’s procedural details and inviting former Olympic gold medallist Nawal El Moutawakel to initiate proceedings.

After a video looking back at the feats of Raja Club Athletic in 2013, a group photograph of the representatives of the qualified teams brought the evening to a close.

The 11th edition of the FIFA Club World Cup, one of football’s most prestigious competitions, will run from 10 to 20 December 2014. Further information on the host country and tournament venues can be found at the official tournament website, along with the match schedule and profiles of the clubs taking part: www.FIFA.com/clubworldcup.