The decision comes after several Moroccan clubs reported COVID-19 cases among their players and staff.
Rabat – The National Professional Football League (LNFP), the body responsible for organizing Morocco’s local leagues “Botola Pro 1” and “Botola 2,” has decided to confine all Moroccan clubs to avoid the infection of their players and staff with COVID-19.
According to the decision, all Moroccan football clubs must stay in a hotel or sports center of their choice for the remainder of the season. Players, as well as technical and medical staff, can no longer visit their homes before the end of the league competitions.
The decision aims to resume the local leagues in safe conditions and avoid canceling them, according to LNFP.
The organization announced the decision on Tuesday during a meeting with the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF). The meeting aimed to discuss the future of local competitions after several clubs reported COVID-19 cases among their staff and players, leading to postponed matches.
Quoted in a press release, LNFP President Said Naciri said all presidents of Moroccan football clubs approved the decision to isolate.
FRMF President Fouzi Lekjaa also welcomed LNFP’s proposal, according to the press release. He pledged that the Moroccan football federation will provide financial support to all clubs, in light of the additional expenses that would ensue from staying in hotels or sports centers.
Lekjaa also thanked all football clubs for their efforts to ensure a successful resumption of local competitions.
Leagues’ current situation
The top-tier professional Moroccan football league, Botola Pro 1, is currently at its 23rd round of competition out of 30. However, LNFP postponed several games from previous rounds due to COVID-19 infections.
Meanwhile, the second-tier competition, Botola 2, is closer to its end, with clubs playing their 26th game of the season out of 30 this week. However, similarly to Botola Pro 1, several games have been delayed due to COVID-19.
The remaining games of the season are of utmost importance for Moroccan football clubs, especially those at the top or bottom of the rankings. They define the teams to qualify for continental competitions, as well as the clubs to be promoted or relegated to a different league.
Therefore, LNFP has announced a schedule that aims to preserve the equality of chance for all Moroccan football clubs. According to the schedule, all teams will play their games in order until the 26th round.
After the 26th round, clubs that missed games in the past due to COVID-19 will play all their postponed matches.
Finally, rounds 27, 28, 29, and 30 will take place over two weeks. Games that include clubs at the top or bottom of the league table will take place on the same date and time to ensure equal opportunities.
COVID-19 and Moroccan football
The Moroccan football leagues will be some of the latest competitions to finish their 2019-2020 season worldwide. The main reason behind the delayed schedules is the suspension of football for over four months, from March to July, due to COVID-19.
However, after the resumption of the competition in the last week of July, several Moroccan football clubs reported COVID-19 cases, causing further scheduling issues for LNFP and FRMF.
Meanwhile, even more clubs from Botola 2 announced infections among their staff and players, possibly due to their relatively smaller budgets for medical tests.