Rabat - In a BBC interview, FIFA President Gianni Infantino said he was disappointed to see that none of the African teams made it to the second round in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Rabat – In a BBC interview, FIFA President Gianni Infantino said he was disappointed to see that none of the African teams made it to the second round in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
When asked if he was saddened by Africa’s early exit, Infantino replied, “Of course.” Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, and Tunisia—all the teams from Africa that qualified for the competition—were eliminated in the group stage. It was a first in 36 years.
“The World Cup is for the whole world and the African teams were very, very close at the end,” Infantino added.
“An Asian (team) made it—an African not—but I think they will be ready soon for the next one,” he told BBC Sport.
The elimination of the African teams has been contested. Many African teams blame FIFA for prioritizing big teams and foregoing the use of video assistant referee (VAR) for the games with African teams.
For example, the Moroccan team felt VAR was not used properly in its games against Portugal and Spain.
On June 25, the referees awarded an equalizer to Spain, even though the corner-kick preceding the final goal of the match should have been played from the opposite side.
The international media, including Le Parisien, heavily criticized the refereeing during the game.
In the Portugal-Morocco game on June 20, the referee refused to use VAR three times when Portuguese footballers committed mistakes Morocco felt were obvious that could have resulted in penalty kicks for Morocco.
After the game, FIFA issued a statement to deny a Moroccan footballer’s accusation that Mark Geiger, the American referee in the Morocco-Portugal game, had requested a Portugal jersey. FIFA said the referee acted in “an exemplary and professional manner as an appointed match official.”