Kenitra - After a year of subsequent disappointments, Moroccans have almost lost all faith in their local sports, especially in comparison to what other countries, on a par with Morocco, have achieved in the Olympics lately.
Kenitra – After a year of subsequent disappointments, Moroccans have almost lost all faith in their local sports, especially in comparison to what other countries, on a par with Morocco, have achieved in the Olympics lately.
After the successive failures in the African Cup of Nations 2012 followed by the latest disappointment or rather disgrace of the Olympics, it seems that we are in a desperate need for a time-out.
It appears that the Royal Federation of sports in Morocco insists on soaking this country’s dignity in the mud. Even after all the disasters that plagued sports in Morocco, the Federation has not decided to stop for a moment and reflect on the issue. In football for instance, what happened in African Cup 2012 could have served as a wakeup call that would have the federation rethink the strategies and policies employed so as to avoid any future pitfalls. However, moths after the shameful elimination of the Moroccan national team in the first round of African Cup of Nations 2012, the Moroccan Federation of football still has not decided to remedy the disastrous situation of football in this country.Moroccan fans celebrate their team’s victory over Tanzania in their group D match in the Cup of African Nations (CAN) qualifying match in Marrakesh on October 9, 2011. (AFP)
It’s no doubt that hiring Eric Gerets to lead our national team was one of the biggest mistakes in the recent history of Moroccan football. Nevertheless, it is still mind boggling to the majority of football fans why the Federation decided to go with a Belgium coach while there should be some professional Moroccan coaches laying around waiting for a good opportunity. Besides, it would be more logical to employ a Moroccan coach because he will at least be more devoted to his nation. Even more puzzling was the massive salary that Gerets has been enjoying since he started leading the Moroccan national team.
Moving to the latest London Olympic games 2012, the scandal was even more aggravating. Most unfortunately, our athletes showed an abysmal performance and kept falling one after another within the first rounds of the competition. Moreover, the Moroccan athletic reputation was polluted with drug use when some candidates failed doping tests. The International Association of Athletics Federations suspended Moroccan 1500-meter runner Meriam Alaoui Selsouli. That was just another devastating blow to the fans of sports in this country.Morocco’s flagbearer Wiam Dislam (C) leads her delegation during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 at the Olympic Stadium in London. AFP Photo-Gabriel Bouys-Getty Images
As if all that was not enough disappointment and disgrace, Moroccan local Raja Club of Casablanca decided to play against FC Barcelona. Despite the fact that the results were quite predictable, Moroccan football fans were still thirsty for a victory that would bring back a few doses of pride. Obviously, the Raja Club was annihilated by a clean 8-0. While some people were expecting such a result, nearly all sports fans, especially football fans felt vexed and humiliated, with the exception of our Royale Federation and its members, who still did not seem to lift a single finger.
It is evident by now that Moroccan football in particular is in danger with all the irresponsible decisions either from the Federation or from the Belgium over-paid coach. It is also very obvious that Moroccans are tired of all the misery brought by a game they love so much. Perhaps, sports and football in particular has been the only outlet for the majority of Moroccans; it has been the escape from life’s quarrels and troubles. It would probably be a dangerous attempt to have this field infected with defeat as well.
The problem of sports in Morocco is certainly to be attributed to the pile of sketchy decisions that often fall flat and yield undesirable results. There is also the issue of misplaced trust; for some reason, we trust foreigners to run the show for us. Perhaps, we are the only country or at least among the few ones that hire overseas coaches to lead their national team and train their athletes. Even worse, we bring people from different European countries and pay them huge salaries to lead us to defeat. I personally have never understood this equation especially that we could use our local human resources, which would cost less and would probably yield better results.
The worst thing that could happen now is desensitizing Moroccans to defeat and failure. It must be noted that from a psychological stand point, these defeats have a considerable impact on the average Moroccan vis-a-vis their sense of patriotism. National pride would be at risk if Morocco decided to keep accepting this pile of defeats without taking measure to alleviate the situation of sports and protect the image of Morocco within the country and out of it.
I believe that if we can’t manage to build a better foundation for sports in Morocco, it would be better to just give up on that dream and concentrate our time and money on other domains that are no less miserable. Perhaps, we could use the budget devoted to the Royale Federation of football to improve other fields that seem more vital for the development of this country. Why would any sensible government pay a coach 250, 000 Euros monthly, when the country suffers from severe problems like joblessness and poverty? I honestly don’t think that football should be a priority in a country that struggles with major social and economical setbacks.
Issam Eddine Jalal is a High school English Teacher and PhD candidate in the Theater and Stage Arts Lab at the University of Ibn Tofail in Kenitra, Morocco. He has a Master’s in English Language and Culture with focus on media and film studies in Morocco in 2008
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