Lekjaa hits back at criticism from Egypt and Tunisia, saying that his team deserved its finalist ticket and is poised to relinquish it if proven otherwise.
Rabat – Fouzi Lekjaa, the president of both Morocco’s Royal Football Federation (FRMF) and Moroccan football club Nahdat Berkane (commonly known as RS Berkane), has said that his club would withdraw from the African Confederation Cup if proven guilty of the allegations leveled against it.
Fouzi’s statements are a direct response to strident warnings from Mortada Mansour, the president of Egypt’s Al Zamalek sports club.
Mansour recently accused RS Berkane of “unfair” treatment of opponents. Mansour claimed an RS Berkane executive “deliberately sounded the alarm of a hotel on the eve of an important game to psychologically affect players of a rival team.”
The president of the Egyptian football club president was referring to an incident that occurred on the day of the CAF Confederation Cup semi-final game in Morocco between RS Berkane and Tunisian club CS Sfaxien.
At 5 a.m of match day, the alarm of the Be Live hotel in Saidia where the Tunisian club was staying went off. Mansour claims that Moroccans intentionally sounded the alarm to perturb the Tunisian team.
Mansour said on Friday, May 10, that his club must be properly treated in order for Egyptians to reciprocate with their Moroccan guests
Responding to the allegations in an interview with Moroccan news outlet Achkayen, Lekjaa challenged Mansour to provide proof for his accusations. The Moroccan said that his team would withdraw from the competition and surrender its finalist spot to CS Sfaxien if it was proven that someone from both the club and supporters triggered the alarm.
Lekjaa also said that the withdrawal would also be applied if there was ambiguity on the goals scored by RSB against CS Sfaxien.
According to the hotel report on the incident, Lekjaa stated that the alarm has been triggered due to hookah smoke.
Lekjaa also spoke about the refereeing mistakes that led to the qualification of Al Zamalek. During the quarter-final match between Moroccan club Hassania of Agadir (HUSA) and Al Zamalek, the referee refused a valid HUSA goal that would have upended the outcome of the match.
“If someone wants to give us lessons, they should not accept the refereeing mistakes because of which they were qualified,” asserted the FRMF president.
“Practicing psychological pressures on rivals is part of football, but the ways to pressure have changed. So the president of Al Zamalek club has to change his methods,” added Lekjaa.
Two days after his trenchant statements about RS Berkane’s “unfair play,” however, Mansour played down his criticism, saying that he was only quoting the Tunisian media.
In his latest radio interview on the topic, Mansour withdrew his comments, telling Moroccan broadcaster Radio Mars that his point had been to highlight that sporting disagreement should not affect the “friendly relations” between Egypt and Morocco.
“I obtained all the information from Tunisian media. I was talking to Fouzi Lekjaa, a brother dear to me because I don’t want to affect the Egyptian-Moroccan relations because of a match,” Mansour explained.