FRMF’s response comes weeks after allegations that it tried to “instrumentalize” the death of the player’s father.
Rabat – The Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) has finally reacted to reports that the federation “exploited” the death of Mohamed Ihattaren’s father to convince the young player to play for Morocco’s national team.
A FRMF source has said that FRMF never went overboard in its bid to secure the services of Ihattaren, or any other player eligible to represent Morocco, describing such reports as “false and unfounded.”
The reaction comes weeks after the Ihattaren and his brother told Dutch outlet AD that, in its determination to have Ihattaren play for the Moroccan national football team, FRMF did not hesitate to use their father’s death as a recruitment card.
“It was unbelievable,” Yassine, the player’s elder brother, said in the interview. “They came to my father’s funerals to discuss my brother’s national team choice. This was a sad day reserved for condolences. That is why we chose to distance ourselves from these people,”
However, the unnamed FRMF source, quoted by Moroccan Arabic language newspaper in its December 28-29 issue, responded by accusing the Ihattaren family of not providing all the details about the funeral episode, saying that the story about FRMF capitalizing on the sad event was completely false.
“Everything that the player has said about FRMF supposedly exerting pressure on him after his father’s death is false and baseless,” the source said. They added, rather, that FRMF’s involvement in organizing the funeral was a request from the Ihattaren family. “It’s the Ihattaren family who got in touch with us to help facilitate the exhumation of the body, which we did.”
As report emerged weeks ago of FRMF “going too far” in its ambitions to convince the young player to represent Morocco’s Atlas Lions, and exerting unhealthy pressure on the young player and his family, one circulated piece of proof was a picture of FRMF president Fouzi Lekjaa at the funeral of Ihattaren’s father.
The image of a concerned Lekjaa speaking to a dejected Ihattaren lent credence to the “going too far” script.
According to the FRMF source, however, Lekjaa only “naturally” attended the ceremony because he happened to be in Oujda, “not very far from” from where the funeral took place.
The source said that while Lekjaa attended the funeral, he did not at any moment speak to the family about recruitment-related issues. “We challenge the Ihatatren family to produce any proof, written or recorded message from Fouzi Lekjaa.”