Speculations have emerged that Morocco is paying MAD 10 million to the Argentine Football Association for a friendly match, angering some Moroccans.
Rabat – The Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) has allegedly proposed to pay the Argentine Football Association MAD 10 million for an Argentina-Morocco friendly, on the condition that Lionel Messi plays.
Morocco’s national football team will face off with Argentina in a friendly match on March 26 at Tangier’s grand stadium.
According to Moroccan daily Al Ahdath Al Maghribia, if Messi does not show up, Morocco will allegedly pay the Argentine Football Association MAD 5 million.
The match will serve as a preparation for the Atlas Lions for the coming Africa Cup of Nations championship in Egypt (CAN), planned for June 15 to July 13.
Boycotting the friendly match
Many Moroccans expressed their discontent at the alleged sum, arguing that Morocco could instead use the money to save “hundreds of people” dying in the Atlas and Riff mountains from the cold.
They also brought up the misery of Moroccans who struggle to earn a living and die in hospitals without primary medical care.
Some Moroccans started a boycott campaign on Facebook recently calling for the match to be suspended and the money to be used to improve the lives of needy people.
The campaign also sent a message to Messi fans and Moroccans who will buy match tickets.
“For those who buy tickets on the pretext of support and patriotism, we all love the national team and we want the sport to evolve, but not at the expense of the poor and disadvantaged.”
Friendly match viewed from an economic perspective
In contrast to the boycotters’ claims, FRMF’s spending does not come entirely from the government’s coffers.
However, the FRMF fund is partly filled by FIFA contributions. For instance, Morocco’s qualification for the the 2018 World Cup in Russia earned FRMF $9.5 million from FIFA.
The FRMF is financed mainly by broadcasting rights and sponsors’ donations, such as the MDJS—the body responsible for sports gambling in Morocco. It is also sponsored by Coca Cola (MAD 2.4 million), Sidi Ali (MAD 4.7 million), and Maroc Telecom (MAD 32 million), in addition to several Moroccan food companies.
Morocco World News attempted to contact FRMF to obtain more information about the speculations. However, FRMF was unreachable.
Morocco’s insistence that Messi play with his national team in March may help promote the country, due to the Argentinian legend’s advertising value, as the player is followed by hundreds of millions of fans around the globe.
When Cristiano Ronaldo joined Italian club Juventus F.C., the club reportedly sold more than 600,000 of Ronaldo’s jerseys in 24 hours, raising €60 million. In contrast, Juventus sold only 850,000 jerseys for all its players in 2016.
FRMF may gain more than the $1 million to be paid to the Argentinian governing body. FRMF will cash in on revenue through broadcasting rights from the Doha-based sports broadcasting company beIN Sports which will televise the match. In addition, Argentinian broadcasting companies will pay to televise it.